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Criticism backfires

May 9, 2011

A Great Idea …

“The easiest way to make children feel that there is something wrong with them is to criticize them. It diminishes their image of themselves. Instead of criticism, children need information without derogation.” (Haim Ginott, Child Psychologist, in his book, Between Parent and Child, p. 82)

In Other Words…

It is easy for parents to pour out their complaints when children do childish things. But criticism attacks children’s character without giving them useful information. When children stumble, rather than tell them to be careful or stop being clumsy, we can show compassion for the challenges of growing up. A good response might be, “It’s easy to stumble when you’re trying to hurry.” Compassion is more helpful than criticism.

How This Applies to You…

Next time you are tempted to criticize your child, stop. See what challenge your child may be facing. See the world through your child’s eyes. Instead of criticizing the child by saying, “You never pick up your toys!” or “You are so forgetful!” take their point of view and give information as appropriate. Say, “You’ve been very absorbed with your toys. You haven’t picked up your clothes yet. Will you do that now?” or “I see you forgot your lunch again. What can we do to help you remember it in the future?”

To Find Out More…

For an excellent (and free!) program on parenting, see The Parenting Journey at and if your children are younger than six, check out See the World Through My Eyes.

For more in-depth reading, we recommend Between Parent and Child by Dr. Haim Ginott or Soft-Spoken Parenting by H. Wallace Goddard.

One Comment
  1. May 14, 2011 12:22 pm

    I can’t seem to be able to reach this site from my smartphone!

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