#MIKidsCan: Teach Your Kids to Deal with Criticism
Criticism can be difficult to deal with, but to kids, hearing they didn’t do something well enough can be devastating. Developmentally, children are egocentric and lack perspective. Children don’t have the ability to differentiate between positive and negative criticism, leaving them feel sad or even depressed; a response that can be heightened for those who tend to be perfectionists or anxious. That’s why, as a parent, it’s important to know how to help your child cope with criticism in a healthy way.
Dealing with bad criticism
Say your daughter is upset because she got a math problem wrong and a classmate told her she wasn’t smart. Start by acknowledging that it’s normal for those words to hurt. Then explain that mean criticism is often based on jealousy, and that people who criticize others like that are usually insecure about themselves.
Now it’s time to turn this into a teaching moment. In a mirror, ask her what she sees. Following her answer, tell her what you see in the mirror: “I’m looking at my funny, smart, goofy girl who is a great learner and never gives up.” This is a positive way to reinforce her strengths and show her that it doesn’t matter what others say about her, it’s how she feels about herself that’s important.
Accepting constructive feedback
Not all criticism is bad: Your child will also be on the receiving end of good feedback that’s designed to help him or her improve. But handling constructive criticism is a skill. It takes practice, observing adults modeling appropriate behaviors and advice from adults for a child to learn how to understand and process feedback. Growth mindset shows children the opportunity to learn and grow. The key is explaining the better way your child could have handled the situation as opposed to just what they did wrong.
As a parent, one of the best things to teach your kids is how to take good criticism (anything that will make them better and that comes from someone they trust) and ignore the bad (anything that doesn’t help them improve or makes them feel bad). The more you can teach your kid this philosophy, the more successful they will be in the future at handling these different situations.
Photo credit: Lucelia Ribeiro