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Children and Constructive Criticism

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Children need to know right from wrong. Learn how to give your child constructive criticism.

Introduction

We have an obligation to teach our children how to conduct themselves properly in the world. Part of this duty requires us to correct their mistakes in behavior. One of the ways we do this is through giving our children constructive criticism.

First, we need to stress that to give this criticism to our children is not an option, it is an obligation. As parents, we have a duty to redirect our children. It is not in our children's best interests nor do we do them any favors if we do not guide them properly. When we see things that come up in their daily lives that they do wrong, we must correct this behavior. How can we, as parents, redirect our children's behavior in such a way that it does not get in the way of the healthy parent-child relationship?

How to Give Criticism Constructively

There are a number of things we should remember when redirecting our children that will make our criticism more accepted and more effective.

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1- Children Have Feelings

This is probably the most important thing to remember when criticizing our children. It is obvious to everyone that children have feelings. Yet, very often, it is something that we as parents forget.

Children, particularly when they are small, are completely in our control. It is easy to forget that they are little people. They have feelings that can be hurt and self-esteem that can be crushed if we criticize them in a non-constructive belittling way. We must try to relate to them as we would like others to relate to us.

2- Have Your Message Clear

The goal of proper criticism is to get your message across to your child. That means you have to have a message. If you don't have an idea you are trying to convey, then all you are doing by criticizing your child is venting your own anger and frustration. You will do nothing positive for your child, and your child will not change his behavior in the future. Remember, your goal with criticism is to educate, not to punish or embarrass or to seek revenge against the child. When you criticize you must have something you are trying to teach.

Children need to know right from wrong. Learn how to give your child construction criticism.3- Deliver Your Message Properly

You must give rebuke. It is your obligation as a parent. You have an obligation to raise your child properly. The point is that it should be given in a positive manner. To do this you must satisfy a number of conditions.

a. Criticize the behavior not your child

This is critical. Direct your criticism toward your child's behavior. It has to be clear to your child that it is the behavior that upsets you, not him.

b. Don't label your child

Children get their sense of whom they are from what others tell them. When a parent gives a child a label, this label will eventually stick, with disastrous consequences.

I recently heard the following story:

A teenager came to consult with a well-known educator about the problems he was having with his parents. Here is how the conversation went at the start of their first meeting.

"I don't get along with my father. We're not anything alike. My father- he's driven. He gets up early in the morning. He works all day. In his free time, he's involved in a bunch of charity organizations. He is always taking classes. All the time, he's on the go doing things here and there. He never stops. And me..."

"Yes?"

"I'm a lazy good for nothing bum."

So what actually happened? The father of this boy grew up in the depression. He was extremely poor. Through tremendous hard work, he pulled himself out of poverty and is now quite wealthy. But all his life, he maintained the same work ethic that delivered him from poverty.