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Understanding Guilt – (to Free Your Child from It)


Understanding Guilt – (to Free Your Child from It)


Guilt is often used by adults on children as a strategy to make them behave properly. More and more studies are showing that reinforcing guilt in children is a big step to make them anxious thinkers. This can also make them vulnerable to a lot of negative manifestations, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, introversion, shame, poor of self-esteem, indecisiveness, and lack of initiative.

The Science Behind Guilt and the Brain

According to Joan Luby, one of the researchers behind a 12-year study about the guilt’s effect on the brain part called anterior insulas, children with high levels of guilt have smaller insulas. This brain part is known to function in the regulation of emotion, perception and self-awareness. Having small insulas predisposes them to depression sometime later in their lives.

This study points to the importance of how changes in the brain structure can be used as a sign of a latent emotional condition as early as age 4 to 12, which may appear later. This study has been published JAMA Psychiatry. The study underscores the importance of recognizing the early symptoms of excessive guilt and early intervention. The negative effects of guilt are supported by other studies. One study shows how guilt can make a child internalize their issues leading to emotional concerns, such as depression and anxiety.

Guilt and Anger

Though anger is a normal human emotion, it can take the form that is unhealthy or unwholesome. It is complex; even adults may have difficulty understanding it. Adults who do not know how to resolve their anger properly are likely to have children who can’t understand or resolve their anger either. These adults are also likely to use guilt as a tool to control their children’s behavior and anger. According to Lynne Namka, Ed. D., anger can be used to mask their guilt as well as shame and vulnerability.

In another study undertaken by Tolvanen et al. (2013), which was published in the Journal of Family Psychology, it was shown that parenting based on creating guilt can increase distress and anger in children.

How to be the Positive Factor in Your Child’s Life

When you understand what guilt is all about and how it can hurt your child, it would be easier to be a positive factor in their life. You will strive not to use it (whether consciously or unconsciously) in an effort to control your child. You will seek professional help for your children (and possibly yourself) when you see the signs of unhealthy guilt because you know it can make them vulnerable to many other negative emotions.

If your child is showing signs of excessive guilt, don’t ignore them. It will be best that interventions are done while they are young and their brain has not yet been affected by long years of depression, anxiety, etc. With the help of a therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Fuquay-Varina, NC, you can support your child’s emotional health this early to their adulthood. Make that call now to stop guilt from making a dent in your child’s life.


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Carolina Counseling Services – Fuquay-Varina, NC contracts with Licensed professional counselors/therapists/psychologists that provide a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Carolina Counseling Services – Fuquay-Varina, NC contracts with friendly, caring therapists who assist adult individuals, couples, families, and children with resolving issues and getting back to enjoying their lives. Whether you are non-military or military, it will always been a pleasure to work with you. CCS and the independently contracted therapists are able and happy to assist active duty dependents and retired military and their families.

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Fuquay-Varina, NC

Counties: Wake County NC

Cities: Fuquay-Varina NC, Holly Springs NC, Angier NC, Duncan NC, Chalybeate Springs NC, Feltonville NC, Garner NC, Kennebec NC, Willow Springs NC, Cokesbury NC, Holland NC, Wilbon NC, Apex NC

Zip Codes: 27501, 27502, 27523, 27526, 27529, 27539, 27540, 27592

We are located at:

Carolina Counseling Services - Fuquay-Varina, NC
602 E. Academy St. Ste. 103
Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526

(919) 887-1100

602 E. Academy St. Suite 102

Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526

Our Mailing Address:

PO BOX 9909
Fayetteville, NC 28311

How Do I Set Up my FIRST Appointment?

  • Call: (919) 887-1100 (Fastest way to schedule)
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  • Referrals: MOST beneficiaries do NOT need a Referral!

View the independently contracted, Caring, Licensed Therapists. Who is the Best Fit for you?

  • Kimberly Tran, PhD, HSP-P

    Specializes in: (Ages 18+) Individuals, Couples, anxiety, PTSD, trauma (adults who have experienced childhood physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse, Wounded Warrior) grief and loss, relationship issues, addiction, recovery, co-occuring substance abuse, couple/marital concerns, personality disorders, mood disorders.
    Insurance: BCBS, Tricare (to include Tricare Prime), Medicare and cash
    Location: Fuquay-Varina, NC

  • Laura Coyle, PhD, HSP-P

    Specializes in: (Ages 3+) Children, Adolescents, Couples, Individuals, Family, anxiety, persistent sadness and depression, mood swings, responses to trauma, grief, behavioral concerns, autism spectrum disorders, attention difficulties, excessive procrastination, challenges related to physical health concerns, relational conflicts, problematic alcohol or drug use, problematic eating patterns, communication difficulties, Affirmative and Multiculturally Competent Counseling, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
    Insurance: BCBS, Tricare (to include Tricare Prime) Medicare and cash

    Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

    Location: Fuquay-Varina, NC

  • Teshia Utley-McKoy, MS, LPC

    Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Adolescents, Individuals, Marriage and Couples counseling, Anxiety issues, Parent-child relational issues, Spirituality, Behavior Management, ADHD, ODD, PTSD Trauma, Self-Esteem, Depression, Grief and Loss, Adjustment and Transitional Issues, Coping Skills, Christian counseling.
    Insurance: BCBS, Tricare (to include Tricare Prime), HSA/FSA and cash

    Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

    Location: Fuquay-Varina, NC

  • Rachel Macko, LCSW

    Specializes in: (Ages 18+) Adults, Individuals, Anxiety, Panic Disorder, OCD, Depression, Mood Disorders, PTSD, Trauma, Acute Stress Disorder, Chronic Pain/Health Concerns, Grief and Loss, Adjustment/Transitional Issues, Coping issues, Sleep Issues, Communication issues. Mindfulness Training and EMDR are available.
    Insurance: BCBS, Medicare, Tricare Prime/Select, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted

    Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

    Location: Fuquay-Varina, NC
  • Sherry Horowitz, LCSW

    Specializes in: (Ages 10+) Children, Adolescents/Teens, Adults, Individuals, Couples, Families, Communication Skills, Mood Disorders, Adjustment Disorders, ADHD, Couples/Marriage Counseling, Grief and Loss, Parenting Issues, Panic Attacks, Issues Related to Military Families, Self-Esteem, Sleep Issues, Positive Behavior Modification, Eating Disorders, Anxiety or Fears, Depression, Self-esteem, Body Image Issues, Grief and loss, ADHD in girls and women
    Insurance: BCBS, Medicare, Tricare, HSA/FSA and cash

    Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

    Location: Fuquay-Varina, NC
  • Aisha Alston, MA, LPC

    Specializes in: (Ages 8+) Children, Adolescents, Teens, Adults, Families, Couples, Communication Issues, Parenting Issues, Mood Disorders, Thought Disorders, Anxiety, Depression, Panic Attacks, Relationship Issues, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Conflict Issues, Grief/Loss, Adjustment Disorder, LGBT, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Conduct disorder
    Insurance: BCBS, Tricare and Cash

    Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

    Location: Fuquay-Varina, NC