When faced with shame, children can either respond in submissive ways to withdraw from their environment or in externalizing ways to oppose their environment. This study tested the hypothesis that fragile-positive views of self predispose children to respond in externalizing ways to shame situations. Narcissism, actual and perceived social preference, global self-worth and propensity towards externalizing shame responding were measured in 122 pre-adolescent children. As expected, results revealed that narcissism, in contrast to global self-worth, was associated with externalizing shame responding. In addition, actual but not perceived social preference was inversely related to externalizing shame responding, suggesting that the social self-perceptions of children prone to employ externalizing shame responses may be inflated. Discussion focuses on the self-regulatory function of externalizing shame responses. © 2007 The British Psychological Society.