Preparing Your Child to Handle Criticism

Preparing Your Child to Handle Criticism


As a parent or teacher, it’s important to spend time thinking about how to frame feedback for kids. Whilst the desire is to avoid upsetting them, we all recognise that over protecting a child sets him or her up as very vulnerable when it comes to venturing out of the home.

“The trick is to get your child to learn how to handle criticism gracefully and learn from it,” says Parents advisor Michele Borba, Ed.D., author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions.


The first step is not to be afraid to offer criticism yourself. Imagine you have always been praised and never received feedback on how you could improve; you would certainly be taken aback if a teacher or new friend told you had done something wrong or suggested you did it another way. It’s your responsibility as a parent to introduce feedback to your child and to teach them the tools for reacting appropriately.


Praise where praise is due… and in proportion. This study highlights the adverse impact of inflated praise on children especially those with low self-esteem.


“…inflated praise decreases challenge seeking in children with low self-esteem and has the opposite effect on children with high self-esteem. These findings show that inflated praise, although well intended, may cause children with low self-esteem to avoid crucial learning experiences.” – Brummelman et al. in study, “That’s Not Just Beautiful—That’s Incredibly Beautiful!”


Once a child is familiar with criticism it’s important you help prepare your child to deal with it when it arises. Here are a few steps:


Talk about feelings.

The emotions you feel when receiving criticism are instinctive and, as it often is with children, the reaction might be disproportionate. Rude retorts, crying or complete withdrawal are all perfectly normal and it’s your job to try and help your child to unpack why they react in this way, so that next time they can better deal with the criticism and move forward from it. Asking them how the criticism made them feel helps them to understand it and allows them to recognise the feeling in the future.


Equip them with tools.

Giving examples of how to deal with criticism can be super useful. Every scenario is, of course, different but this article covers some good examples of criticism and what appropriate responses might be – definitely worth a read so you have some suggestions ready should a similar situation arise.


Body language.

It can be tricky to get everything right but what you say is just as important as how you say it. When preparing to talk to a child, uncross your arms, put yourself eye level with the child, smile and keep your face relaxed. If you are tense when you hand out criticism, they will be tense when they receive it.


Good, Better, Best.

Never Let it Rest,

Until the Good is Better

And the Better is Best.


No one likes to be criticised but it’s a hugely important part of learning and by helping your child to understand how to cope and respond can only set them up for better self-awareness and personal development in the future.


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Bedtime Reading

Bedtime Reading

The Importance of Bedtime Reading

It can be tough in busy, adult life to find time to read. Often the key is to create a daily routine, picking up a book at the same convenient time, every day. For your child, routine is especially important and as the parent, that routine must come from you.

Bedtime reading has a huge number of benefits from improved vocabulary and attention span, to the intimate, calm time which improves the child’s capacity for emotions like love and trust.

There’s a clear indication of a neurological difference between kids who have been regularly read to and kids who have not,” says G. Reid Lyon, Ph.D., chief of the child development and behaviour branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, MD.

The benefits are multi-faceted in that not only can your child learn from the contents of the book but also from the activity of reading itself.

Here are a few steps to help generate a love of reading from your child:

  1. Make reading a part of every night’s bedtime routine and don’t skip on it. If it’s getting late, choose a shorter book but don’t rush, remember this is calm time.

  1. Engage, bedtime reading shouldn’t be passive. Sure, pre-reading age, you will be the one saying the words. However, pointing out things from the text that are also shown in the pictures, helps children with association. Putting on voices for different characters is fun and will help your child’s imagination to bring the story to life.

  1. Let them choose. Even as adults we have favourite books that we hold dear, so let your child choose which story he or she wants each night. Yes, this might lead to the same few books being read over and over but repetition allows them to recognise patterns and sequences which can help develop logic skills.

  1. Make new books a treat. Aside from the fact books are often cheaper than the latest toy, you will likely more value and learning from them. They are certainly healthier than sweets! If your child has been good, reward them with a trip to a local bookstore where (with a little guidance), they can pick a new book for bedtime reading.

It’s vital that you continue to encourage your children with reading as they progress. It can be a hard jump from cosy, bedtime reading at home, to having to read in class or bringing home set reading that “has” to be done as homework. Children who struggle with reading or start to recognise they are behind their peers, can easily associate reading as something they are bad at and will not want to do it. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this but as much as you can try, keep reading fun. Finally, don’t forget to lead by example and find some quiet time with a book of your own!


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