Guilt is one of those loaded emotions. It's something that has a risk of either steeping us in feelings of not being worthy or has the potential to launch us onto higher paths of taking responsibility and making amends.
So let's try to understand "guilt".
Legitimate guilt happens when we have done something that has caused harm to someone else - intentionally or accidentally. I think of times that children I have known have said something that was either mean or could have been perceived as being mean and hurtful. They notice in the moment their words reach the other child's ears that they have caused pain. The feeling of distress that comes with this kind of recognition of the pain one has caused another is guilt. Legitimate guilt.
Guilt also legitimately happens when we've done something that we knew was not the "right" thing to do. As a result, we may have caused harm to others; though we may only have caused harm to ourselves by disregarding our higher values and ethical principles. We cut someone off in traffic. We accepted credit for someone else's work - think of homework that parents complete! We cheat on a test. We lie to avoid getting into trouble. We betray the trust other people have placed in us. This is legitimate guilt.
When we know we have done something "wrong" - unethical, immoral, illegal, or just plain unkind - we rightly feel guilty as a result. What we do about this is a matter of rather extensive considerations by philosophers, ethicists, spiritual leaders, and psychotherapists throughout the ages, but, to keep it simple, when we feel guilt, we need to own our mistakes, the harm we may have caused, and make amends...if we can do so without causing more harm.
BUT...sometimes when we say we're feeling "guilty" we actually mean we're feeling "anxious". That's "illegitimate guilt". But, more on that tomorrow!
In the meanwhile, consider what you feel like when your child comes to you with their feelings of guilt.