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How to Criticize and Praise our Children
Posted by:   |  Nov 01, 2010

One of the most important elements of building self esteem among children is the way parents criticize and praise their kids. Negative criticism implies that affection or approval is conditional on good performance. Positive criticism implies that we approve you regardless of the result of your performance.

  • Encourage your child to have “doing-your-best” attitude and accepting it regardless of the outcome.
  • Never tell kids that second best is not good enough or a failure. Ask your children to evaluate their performance. “Are you happy with it?” “Why?” “What did you get out of it?” Ask: “What would you do differently next time?”
  • Ask a child what he needs in order to do as well as he wants. Maybe your child needs more sleep or to learn how to prioritize, or maybe need more practice.
  • Offer support verbally and non-verbally. Validate his challenges. Empathize with the child: “This stuff is difficult, isn’t it?”  “It is OK, we can learn from it and do better next time.”
  • Teach your child to plan and prioritize. If your child leaves her homework for the last minute and consequently doesn’t do well on a test, don’t be harsh with “I told you so.” Instead, capitalize on his own disappointment. “You’re disappointed with the way things turned out, are you?” Ask: “What can you do next time to be more prepared and make it better?”
  • Words of encouragement work like magic. Few words of appreciation get results where criticism and ridicule fail. Give honest and sincere appreciation and encouragement to kids and they would do anything for you.
  • Reward the process, attitude and the effort, not the talent or the product. Shifting focus to effort illuminates the key to mastery and improvement (not perfection).
  • When a child gets a high grade on a paper, resist the urge to say: “You’re brilliant” or you are the best. These are not authentic statements. Instead say: “You’re a really good thinker.” Be specific: It’s great that you connected X to Y (a behavior to the outcome). Or ask a question that focuses attention on the thinking: “What got you interested in this?” If you praise kids’ intelligence and then they fail at something, they think they’re not smart anymore, and they lose interest in work. But kids praised for effort get energized in the face of difficulty and challenges.
  • Praising effort makes kids (and adults) being aware of their own mental health. The brain is built so that it generates positive mood states – and subdues negative ones – as it works hard toward a meaningful goal.
  • Do not supply material rewards for achievement. Instead, congratulate your kid. Ask why things worked out so well and what your child attributes her success to. You want kids to understand exactly which efforts pay off in which situations. Supplying external rewards kills internal motivation and turns an activity into inspiration-crushing work.

If we have the desire, we can find numerous good things about our kids in one single day. Don’t waste time in finding words for the perfect praise. Just keep our eyes and ears open and discover the little things we can appreciate our kids about, and tell them about it!

Please visit author, Moshe Ratson at his Google+ Profile:+Moshe Ratson



Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in New York City
License # : 000697