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Thursday, January 25, 2007

"You are always criticising me."

Very occasionally your ten year old might feel that words of criticism have been bandied. In the heat of a discussion, your bright and able ten year old may feel that your well meant words were uttered because you were finding fault.

“It is totally unfair of you to keep pointing out all my mistakes. You hardly ever say any thing nice to me. You just criticize all my work. Even when I reached 93% on the last verbal reasoning paper you still said that you hoped I would do better next time!”

“No dear, what I was trying to do with this little story was to point out what you had done well and where you could improve. I was trying to help you to evaluate your work. Anyway, we are not talking today about the verbal reasoning paper – that was last week.”

“Thank you, mother, for reminding me to write a plan. I must admit I forgot – but I will do better next time. I am so grateful for your advice. I know that as a mother you are doing the best you can. I know when you reminded me to write a plan at the beginning of this exercise that I was not really playing attention. I will try hard to do better.

“I really do have difficulty with writing plans. Perhaps you can go over story planning with me once again?”

Some ten year olds are able to understand that criticism is not all to do with blame – and that when they are criticised it is often done in the spirit of trying to help. Repositioning the criticism as a question is a technique that sometime used to defuse a situation.

“Look dear, there is no blame attached, but do you think you could have included a plan? Do you remember we did plans like this before? Is there anything I can do to help?”

Of course when your child achieves that `higher plane’ and begins to understand the difference between criticism of work and a critique – then you know you gone a long way to establishing a different type of relationship. We hope that the word `critique’ implies that your child is being offered advice or a commentary. A mother or father presenting a critique of their child’s work is not always setting out to be rude or uncomplimentary –it is just mum or dad offering an opinion. Whatever your ten year old thinks, mum and dad can offer opinions!

So the next time ……. Try questions, use different language, and start with the words: “We are not trying to blame you, we are just trying to help. How else could you have done it differently?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Shaun, I think what you wrote is very true. It's easy for children to misconstrue what their parents really want from them and for them. But it's a worrying time for parents too. They often feel like they can't help.

This frustration sometimes results in criticism. They don't mean it, but it just comes out that way. Children usually don't like having their parents dictate how they should be performing.

But turning the criticism into a question for the child to solve might be a better option.

Thanks for this bit of advice! I'll try it on my brother and see if it works!