Let’s be honest, none of us really like criticism. We accept it and, if we are smart, we learn from it. However, even those of us with thick skin cringe when someone gives us words that we don’t want to hear or a judgement on something that we say or do. And if adults hate criticism just imagine how it makes children feel! Of course, kids do things that are wrong and make mistakes that need to be corrected. They need to learn from their mistakes, and learn how to take direction as well. This is where respect verses fear in parenting comes in. I am a strong believer that there is a big difference in parenting between criticism and providing feedback to children. The delivery of your opinion can inspire results based on respect or fear. There is a big difference.
Providing Feedback To Children Not Criticism
Positive feedback is a cornerstone of success. Smart leaders in the business world, the artistic community, and sports circles know how to use feedback to achieve goals and motivate those around them. Think about the boss who commends your 80% success rate on sales instead of complaining about the 20% that you didn’t convert. The voice coaches who brags about your overall fantastic performance instead of pointing out the one note that you missed. The basketball coach who applauds your great offensive output instead of yelling at you about your horrible defense. All of these examples are ways to make someone feel confident and strong first before addressing specific flaws or mistakes. A stronger person is always better at handling problems.
Human nature responds to praise much better than it responds to putdowns. That is not to say that problems shouldn’t be addressed but it is much easier to tackle problems when you approach them from the standpoint of respect, teamwork, and cooperation. The ultimate goal is to help someone be better, to succeed, to thrive. Not to point out who is wrong or right. Life and learning are not contests to be won but journeys to be taken – and from which to learn.
Of course this is most important with children. Do you want to help your child get better grades? Focus more on highlighting the A’s and B’s instead of just pointing out the C’s and D’s. Give them strength and hope that they can improve. Tell them if they can do it in one subject then they can do it in more than one! Positive reinforcement will make them want to work harder and be better. Want to help you child make a sports team? Find their strength and build that strength into a point of pride for them. It will make them want to bring the rest of their game up to speed. It is ok to have flaws and make mistakes but constant criticism of those flaws will only make them seem worse in the eyes of a child.
Motivate Your Child Through Respect Vs Fear
There is always a choice between criticism and feedback. When you approach someone with the idea of helping, instead of the idea of pointing out flaws, that person will not only listen to you better but they will probably respect you more as well. And of course with more respect comes more desire to improve and work harder.
It’s the old tried and true question. Do you lead from fear or from respect? Well, I don’t know about you but I do not want my son to fear me at all. Fear based parenting has bad results. I want him to respect me. He absolutely knows his boundaries, and my expectations, and he follows the rules very well. But he does so because I praise his strengths and work with him on his weaknesses. I build him up so that he wants to work harder, be better, and achieve more. I respect him and he respects me. It is a two way street called “support!”
The next time you are faced with a challenge with your child, the next time they have perhaps not done their best, try to approach them with positive feedback instead of negative criticism. Try to find a positive way to work on the negative issue. Even if there is only one small nugget of good in the vast amount of bad, still try to focus on that point and build from there. Not only will you be helping your child but you will also be earning their respect. You will also be teaching them a better way to handle situations and giving them better tools to use as they get older – and the problems of the world get bigger.
Remember, we usually learn more from our failures than we do from our successes – and a great place to start learning is with positive feedback and support. Do you have any parenting tips for providing feedback to children in a constructive way?
Rob Youngblood is a Dad, TV Guy, Emmy Winner, Keynote Speaker, Communication Coach, Storyteller, and Writer.