Hi All... Just wanted to check back in - I wish I had more time to respond carefully, and I appreciate the definitions and the perspectives. However, I have half a brain since I'm pregnant and no time since I'm in school (learning Chinese, which really scrambles the brain
The concept of Shame is something I have considered carefully - throughout graduate studies and readings in philosophy as well as in my own life experience... and I do truly believe that shame has a rightful place in a civilized society, while at the same time I also believe that it has been deeply abused and misused. We should not spitefully or cruelly shame others, especially our own children or any child, for that matter. And of course shaming and teaching are two entirely dif't things.
Shame is a tool that can be very useful in social settings. Experiencing painful emotions is a part of life, even for a toddler. When my toddler wants something dangerous - like a knife, for example, or when my toddler becomes angry and frustrated because he has to have his teeth brushed - I bet if he had the language - he would describe these emotions as painful. But I believe I ought to shield him from the sharp knife and I ought to make sure his teeth are brushed before I shield him from experiencing a painful emotion like frustration or anger.
And I would argue that when I express to my toddler that pee pee goes in the toilet, that is simply a teaching moment. When I use a tone of voice that is other than my normal tone of voice (not at all angry, mind you, just firm), I imply that there is some impropriety in peeing on the floor. It's not the 'right' place to put pee pee - in the long run. And he'll get to peeing in the toilet all the time when he's ready - I'm in no big rush. No big deal, no drama, no yelling, no punishment - but perhaps a bit of appropriate shame and corrective direction.
And for what it's worth - My boy is so happy go lucky and busy that he hardly has time to think about what I'm saying before he's on to the next thing.
I certainly tailor my behavior to his responses to me as well. If I had a more sensitive little creature on my hands, I may not want to be as firm - and my approach would change. I remember being very sensitive to criticism as a child - it didn't take much for me to tune in to other's displeasure - so I remember well that it's important to tune in to the ways each child responds to our tones of voice and our words and actions.
Anyway, thanks for the comments - I wish I could pull out more on the concept of shame and be more organized about my response - but I know that's not the main idea of this thread anyway - just something I'm interested in discussing - as well as EC!