All About Kids

Smart Shaming: What is It and Why It Should Stop

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We might be smart shaming others and our kids without realizing it!

“Ikaw na!” — one of the most common lines reflects smart shaming in the Philippines. While it’s often used in a joking manner, it’s not often light-hearted in motive. Although, nobody enjoys being called out for their mistakes or being outdone by another. But to mask their embarrassment or shame, Filipinos redirect the attention via smart shaming using the typical “Ikaw na!” or “Nosebleed!”

But if Filipinos are all about companionship or pakikipagkapwa, shouldn’t they be praising instead of shaming?

Smart Shaming in the Philippines: The Result of Crab Mentality

We’re all familiar with many Filipinos having the infamous Crab Mentality. Or in Tagalog, Utak Talangka. “If I can’t have it, nobody can,” goes the usual saying. Many believe that the crab mentality only applies to material things like cars, condos, country club memberships, or other status symbols. But when there’s nothing material to shame a person for, they prefer to insult the person’s virtue instead. Wherein a person’s knowledge is the first thing they’ll attack. While they can’t call them out for their lack of knowledge, they’ll instead manipulate the situation to make them appear to be the “smart aleck.”

And let’s be real, nobody wants to hang around a smart aleck.

Family Perspective of Smart Shaming: How It Can Start

To further understand the culture of Smart Shaming, we’ll need to use Psychologist Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory of Development where “each stage of a child’s lifespan has a conflict that will serve as a turning point for development.” These are the following stages where Smart Shaming will have the biggest impact:

  • Early Childhood (2 to 3 Years Old) – Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
  • Preschool (3 to 5 Years Old) – Initiative vs. Guilt
  • School Age (6 to 11 Years Old) – Industry vs. Inferiority

Sometimes, under the guise of “disciplining the kids” or “teaching them manners”, we subconsciously smart shame them especially when they start asking us the infamous “why” or they begin questioning our decisions. Smart shaming doesn’t always need to sound aggressive. Sometimes, it can be as harmless sounding as:

  • Dismissing a child’s response or clarification to the topic.
  • Reprimanding the child because they pointed out something that didn’t make sense.
  • Scolding a child for calling out a mistake of an elder simply because it’s rude to call out an elder.
  • Telling them things like, “Oh, they’re not interested in that. Try getting along with others.”

Somehow, somewhere along the line, we began to prioritize good manners over knowledge when they’re equal in value. People cannot be considered good when they don’t understand the problem. Vice-versa, people cannot be considered smart when they don’t take into consideration people’s feelings.

The Magic of the Pratfall Effect

Smart shaming isn’t an easy culture to stop especially when it means making ourselves vulnerable and going against the idea of hiding our flaws from other people. When we live in a culture that punishes and humiliates us at the slightest mistake, it’s hard to open ourselves up to others. But that doesn’t justify anyone’s smart shaming.

However, there is a way to solve this. Many call this the Pratfall Effect where people do like others more when they make mistakes, especially if these people hold high positions. Holding oneself in high regard can mean showing how making a mistake doesn’t faze you and focusing on what can be done better. Doing so will make people less prone to punishing and humiliating. Now, the ones calling out will be put on the hot seat that if they humiliate when you’re willing to learn, they’ll be the ones in the wrong.

Most of the time, people call out publicly because they thrive on the praise of others. There’s a strong sense of self-righteousness and they believe that this will keep their own insecurity that people don’t like them at bay. But a person who genuinely wishes to teach will do so privately to better clarify any misunderstanding.

Stop bringing up past mistakes!

Many of us are quick to react by washing our hands of the situation because we grew up with the premise that society will always remind us of our mistakes. Many of us grew up with parents who often rubbed or constantly reminded us of our mistakes, leaving us with constant insecurity that the mistakes we make will never go away and making us dread failure. But in truth, they do go away. All it takes is accepting first that we made a mistake and figuring out how to fix it from there.

Want to be a better modern parent? It’s good to read up and keep the mind sharp!

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