Thursday, August 28, 2014

Criticizing Kids... Does it help or hurt?!?

Criticism is tough on anyone let alone kids! Growing up I knew early on that my mother was overly critical. What's occurred since? I've oscillated between refraining from criticizing my children, gently judging them or down right nagging them with my constant criticism. However, there has to be a happy medium.   

Kids shouldn't only hear about how perfect, awesome and great they are. Though they're likely magnificent human beings. What child isn't? We love our children. Each have amazing gifts, but they can't literally be the best at absolutely everything! At some point a parent will have to judge their child if at least to redirect bad habits. 

For my son, I'd like him to work on improving simple habits such as sloppy handwriting and more important tendencies such as humility. While doing so I don't want him to confuse my guidance as judgemental feedback that breaks his sprit. The kicker then is to criticize with sensitivity and honesty. Admittedly, I'm not often the best in this area. If I become overly frustrated, suddenly I find myself nagging my kid about something he did "wrong" over and over again when my intention was to be helpful not critical. 

Through parenting trial and error, I have learned to become much more of an active listener when it comes time to be critical. For instance, during day one of soccer practice my son immediately arrived to practice acting in a way that I perceived as boastful. I understood he felt confidence and how he wanted to play to win, but I also know that it's important to show humility especially in sports.

In this moment there was a great opportunity to teach my child about modesty regardless of my perception. I asked him to define modesty and when he couldn't I said it was the opposite of bragging! Immediately he felt judged. He insisted "I'm not showwwwing off!" I agreed, "you aren't!" 

Then I proceed to discuss that reminding him to be modest wasn't because he was doing anything "wrong" or because I considered him a show-off. What I wanted to convey was simply a lesson in humility! We chatted for a while and soon what I was communicating didn't feel like criticism but felt more like a teachable moment. 

How do you express criticism to your children without crushing their spirit and nagging?!?


  1. I would like to know how you thought yourself to be that way? meaning not be so judgmental?
    The reason I ask is because my family has always been that way and its stuck to me. I am trying to get in the habit of not being the same way my mother and father where with me, But its really hard! I catch myself at times and stop but I need more advise on how to make myself understand that is not the way to parent.

  2. Great question! Not judging is hard for anyone, parent or not. My husband and I have learned a lot through trial and error. We've made mistakes and knew after feeling so guilty just how judgemental or harsh we were being with our son. My best advice is to recommend that you (and your partner if you have one) get together often to talk about what's working and not. If you're a single parent, sit with yourself and score yourself. Really, the best way to get better is to analyze what isn't working and look for strategies to improve on areas of struggle. I'm often looking for parenting books and I keep those close to keep me focused on bettering. It's all in our exercises and habits. Look at what yours are and readjust as needed. Parenting is hard. Repeating our parents bad habits only make it harder. Good luck and keep turning to HerMamas for support. We're all in the parenting journey together!

  3. Great feedback :) thank you


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