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I have 4 kids, 11,8,6,3 (boy girl boy girl). My 6-year old is tremendously prone to shame. At the drop of a hat he will turn away, cover his eyes, hide in the corner and just generally grind to a halt.

I understand the pride/shame axis. I'm sure we're contributing to this somehow or other. What I don't know is what's the best way to handle it when it happens? Right now I try to just sit with him and say positive things until he loosens up and can make eye contact again. It crushes me to see him having those feelings.

All help appreciated.

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My daughter had problems with shutting down and crying especially if she got something wrong or failed at something.

When she was 8, I enrolled her in a local kung fu afterschool program (combo child care/martial arts class). The master taught them pride in themselves via real achievement and didn't take any crap (where to be fair, this behavior falls in the continuum of human behavior). He'd push her - if she started a form, messed up, started crying, he'd push her to start again and not just let her retreat into herself.

By the end of the year, she had a lot more confidence and failing at something didn't cause her to immediately get discouraged and abandon it and cry and stuff. I didn't tell the master about any of this up front, but he came and talked to me and he immediately identified her personal Achilles heel ("She's a good kid, the one problem she has is...") and gave me regular reports on her improvements on that front.

So basically, she needed her ass kicked a bit (call it "tough love" to sound sensitive) to get through it. And sometimes it's hard for us as parents to do that, even though we should, and this proved a good solution for us.

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It's worth considering that your child may simply be doing it to get attention. You have 4 kids, so he has competition for attention, he knows that if he acts crushed he'll get dad all to himself for awhile.

It's also possible that he is crushed of course. Either way my answer would be to stop trying to console him. If he's doing it for attention he's likely to act more and more crushed to get you over there, then give up because it's stopped working. If he's genuinely upset he still needs to deal with his problems himself.

It's hard for any parent to leave a child alone when he/she seems upset, but attention is not always the best way to deal with it.

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