Thursday, 23 December 2010

‘No One So Thoroughly Appreciates the Value of Constructive Criticism as The One Who's Giving It’

Like most things that we do that are negative we are often trying to be positive. Our intention is to help not harm, it’s just that we don’t put ourselves in the other persons’ shoes and actually feel the effect that our comments are having.
 Let’s face it, how would you feel if people were constantly telling you that whatever you do is wrong?

‘Don’t do it like that?’ 
'Don’t be stupid’ 
‘You can’t go out like that’ 
‘Your handwriting is terrible’ 
‘When are you going to grow up?’ 

Sound familiar? It’s just your emotions talking unchecked and emotions are purely reactive. Reaction is without thinking which is good if you have to jump out of the way of an oncoming car but bad if you simply say the first thing that comes into your head. Criticism is reactive and therefore thoughtless. 

Try to think before you speak and consider the effect you want to have instead of not thinking at all. Instead of criticising everything your child does, judging their every move why not try thinking first what you want to achieve by what you are saying? Think about it – if your child is afraid of the dark you might say ‘don’t be a baby there’s nothing there to be afraid of.’

 Instead try to say it in a way that will build there confidence for instance ‘I was the same when I was your age (empathy) but I grew out of it eventually and you will too and like me you'll see there is nothing to fear’ this is no longer a criticism but an observation that you are similar and have experienced the same problems and telling your child that they’ll get through it like you did de-emphasises their fear and tells them that things will get better.

So you key behaviour here is ‘think before you speak ‘ Yes but he’s doing it all the time!’ I hear you say and I know you are sick and tired of it, but it’s a purely emotional response from you and it’s not helping your child to do anything but resent you. So think before you speak and if what you say is not going to support them then keep your mouth shut!

We're all here to make mistakes aren't we? I mean if we get things right first time what have we learned? Nothing! If there is such a thing as a 'meaning of life' then I think it could be - Try, have a go, and see what happens. there's not much else to do in life but have a go and your child is doing exactly that. Unfortunately the way they're doing it is wrong in your eyes, well let's face it you're not exactly perfect yourself are you?

Here are two words to avoid when criticising: always and never. These are two words that hardly belong in any sentence because they can hardly ever be true. But when they are applied toward criticism that can unduly emphasise the negative behaviour you're trying to correct. 

Imagine the power of your criticism when you include always for instance, as in: 'you're always doing that!' it does add an air of permanency to the statement or try this one 'you never clean your toys up!' Suddenly the kid is not just in the wrong but it looks like he always has been. And we wonder why adults are so screwed up! 

So think about what you say to your children. What is your message? Is it born out of frustration or concern? Does it need a re-think, perhaps a deep breath as you count to 10 and try to form your concern into something that will not only correct the behaviour but also NOT put your child permanently in the wrong. I thought today I would add some homework tips on how to correct negative critical behaviour so here goes:


1.                Think about how you speak to your children and how you criticise them
2.                Think about where you learned your behaviour. Perhaps it was from your parents.
3.                Think also about what effect it had on you and how you then felt about your parents
4.                Make a conscious effort for one week to stop criticising without thinking. 
5.    Stop yourself blurting out what you think and turn it around into something positive and say that instead

I hope you enjoyed today's blog and I look forward to speaking with you again tomorrow. 

best wishes

Tony Higo
Chief \Instructor
National Martial Arts College
0800 0920948

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