As parents, you need to carefully consider how to correct your child. Being too harsh is a no-no, so is being lenient. So, can you balance positive criticism along with being supportive? Find out!
By Jasmine Kaur
I was only five years old when 9/11 happened. Although the news and visuals of the incident shocked my parents, they decided not to discuss it with me. They thought I was too young to be exposed to such real-life brutal tragedies. However, not everyone shares the same thought. So, the next day, at school, I found out about the ghastly incident.
When I came back home from school, to my parents’ dismay, I reacted in the most inappropriate manner. I narrated, bursting with excitement, how the planes crashed into the towers — with hand gestures and sound effects. I was amazed by the enormity of the event.
Instead of stopping me, my parents allowed me to finish speaking. After that, they made me sit down and asked me why it happened.
I had no answer to their question as I had no idea.
With grave expressions, my parents explained to me that those planes and buildings were full of people, many of whom lost their lives as the planes collided with the buildings. They told me that it was the handiwork of some bad people. After I listened to what they said, I fell silent. I no longer felt excited about the event.
My parents could have yelled at me and told me to shut up to stop me from reacting the way I did. They could have criticised me for not being considerate.
Instead, my parents dealt with the issue in a sensitive manner. Looking back, I feel grateful about the way my parents reacted — they heard me out and made me understand the enormity of the tragedy to help me respond appropriately.
However, not all parents react to their child's mistakes the way my parents did. This brings us to the question, "Is it okay to criticise a child? If yes, then, is it unacceptable to criticise every time the child makes a misstep?"
Before we answer that, let’s try and understand the meaning of criticism.
When we criticise someone, it means that we are judging the individual's action or work after considering the negatives and the positives.
Although we usually perceive criticism to have an undercurrent of negativity associated with it, the expression of disapproval can also be used to fetch positive results, also known as ‘constructive criticism’.
Constructive criticism is all about giving feedback in such a manner that it helps an individual move forward. The feedback can be about an action, task, behaviour or even, a train of thought.
When it comes to criticising your child, keep the following points in mind to lend criticism a constructive voice:
When your criticism is motivated by a desire to help your child instead of only pointing out her faults, your approach is likely to be different too. This is because the intention behind the criticism sets the tone of the approach adopted.
Let's look at an example for better understanding: Your child falls and gets hurt while running. Here's how you may respond:
Response 1: If you are only motivated to point out her faults, you are likely to say: "You never listen to me when I tell you not to run. Look at what you have done to yourself!"
Response 2: If your efforts are targeted at helping your child not repeat the mistake, you would possibly say: "Are you hurt? Now you know why it’s not a great idea to run around recklessly."
While Response 1 is all about pointing out what's wrong with the child, Response 2 is about pointing out the issue with the child’s action.
Your child is more likely to listen to and act on what is told when the criticism is constructive, as shown in Response 2.
Constructive criticism creates the opportunity for your child to learn and improve rather than feel put down or judged. It is about being supportive and being there for your child. And naturally, it is also a wonderful way to strengthen the bond your share.
About the author:
Written by Jasmine Kaur on 17 December 2018.
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