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New Book Helps Children Identify Feelings of Shame: Gives Them Tools to Thrive

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Kristin Maher helps children identify the voice of shame, call it out and combat its presence in their lives by sharing those feelings with a trusted adult and voicing positivity when the shame monster—The Awfulizer—rears its ugly face.


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Kristin Maher

Truth Tellers Series for Children Launches with The Awfulizer

Shame is keenly felt by humans, affecting all ages and stages of life. Mommy, body and fat-shaming are sadly common terms and occurrences in today’s culture. And while primarily associated with adults, children are just as apt to feel shame. Without the tools and support to react and respond, that shame can lead to damaging and even devastating consequences.

According to The Child Mind Institute, child and adolescent mental health disorders are the most common illnesses that children will experience under the age of 18—more common than the common cold. An estimated 17 million American children have a mental health disorder.

In the first book in the new Truth Tellers series from National Center for Youth Issues, The Awfulizer: Learning to Overcome the Shame Game, speaker, advocate, writer and mother of three Kristin Maher helps children identify the voice of shame, call it out and combat its presence in their lives by sharing those feelings with a trusted adult and voicing positivity when the shame monster—The Awfulizer—rears its ugly face.

The Awfulizer tells the story of eight-year-old James and the first time he met The Awfulizer—a monster that it seemed only he could see, who appears to remind him of his bad or embarrassing behavior. The more James listens to The Awfulizer, the worse he feels about himself; the monster grows larger and the greater the effects of shame become. Noticing a change in their child’s behavior, James’s parents sit him down to talk about what’s been bothering him, and James finds freedom and comfort in opening up about the feelings he’s experiencing. His parents give him tools to fight the negative feelings of shame—“superpowers” that turn him into The Awesomizer.

The Awfulizer is trying to make you feel shame. Shame is that bad feeling you get when you make a mistake and think that it makes you a bad person. The Awfulizer plays the Shame Game to try to convince you that you are no good and no one likes you. And that, James, is a lie.


Kristin Maher is an advocate, writer and speaker on topics dealing with negative emotions. Being on the client side of therapy gave Maher tools for learning to regain control over negative emotions, which led her to write her first book, The Awfulizer. Maher has expanded her focus into a platform she now shares around the country through podcast, her website and speaking engagements. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Grammy-nominated musician Matt Maher, and their three children.

National Center for Youth Issues provides educational resources, training and support programs to foster the healthy social, emotional, and physical development of children and youth. Since 1981, NCYI has established a reputation as one of the country’s leading providers of teaching materials and training for counselors, teachers, and student support professionals. NCYI helps meet the immediate needs of struggling children throughout the nation by ensuring those who mentor them are well prepared to respond across the developmental spectrum. For more information, visit www.NCYI.org.