Correcting a Child Without Criticism

Some time over the summer, I came across a great article on the fine line between correcting and criticizing a child. I say fine line because all too often I have seen and heard parents cross that line without realizing it.

For example, a father gets home and sees his son, who is very excited that daddy’s home. In response to seeing his son, the father says, “Hi son! How was your day? Did you give any trouble in school? Have you done your homework? I told you to make sure you do your homework before I get home.” What do you think the son takes in from this interaction? Do you think he would still be excited about the fact that dad is home? Likely not, because any anticipation about being able to talk about his day has been shot down with criticism around his behavior and history of homework completion.

In the article, Emory Luce Baldwin outlines 5 ways parents can communicate with their child without crossing that fine line:

  • provide a lot more information up front as helpful tips or training, instead of waiting until a child needs to be corrected for a mistake. For instance, in the above example, the son should have a reminder when he gets home to do his homework, whether by an adult or with an activity scheduler in a highly visible place.
  • let the little stuff go. This bears repeating. LET THE LITTLE STUFF GO! Not every mistake needs to be caught and corrected every time.
  • try describing what a child is doing right. And always try to start there. No one wants to be bombarded by the bad news.
  • trust your child to make her own mistakes and to learn from them. This is very difficult, I understand. But a child must learn about consequences in a safe, controlled environment like at home or in the classroom before they face the big, open world.
  • it always helps to ask more questions and give fewer directions to inspire your child to think through how to improve a situation. Encourage them to think for themselves.

The author provides more examples and additional bonus tips. You can read the post here:

A Good-Enough Child | Emory Luce Baldwin, LCMFT.


About Traci S. Williams-Nurse

Dr. Traci Williams-Nurse is a licensed psychologist who specialized in child, adolescent and family psychology. Her interests include child development, family functioning, video games and food. She was born and raised in Trinidad & Tobago and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
This entry was posted in Abuse, Behavior, Communication, Conflict, Discipline, Parenting, Parents, Punishment, Reinforcement and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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