An alternative to Criticism

I decided to translate for you this blurb I found from an incredible woman who is actually a customer of my hosting services. She’s a counselor for families, couples and so on, and has 30 years of experience in counseling:

Israeli society is characterized by large involvement of people in each other’s lives, as well as being overly critical of each other’s behavior. However, the act of criticizing may sometimes cause great damage, especially where children are involved.

It’s difficult for some to imagine raising children without a good amount of criticisms. They think “How else will the child know what good behavior means, and learn and improve his habits?”.

It may be true that most people use criticism with nothing but the best of intentions in their hearts, out of an attempt to help the person being criticized “improve”. However, try to think: When was the last time you actually learned something from being criticized? felt grateful for someone’s criticism? when did criticism ever convince you to improve your habits? and how often did the exact opposite happen?

Many people grew up in a criticism-heavy environment and it is the only thing they know. They are unaware of other, better tools. It is burned into my mind from my childhood, that teachers only focused on the mistakes the children made, and never gave any praise for the amount of effort the children put into their work, into how well crafted some of the answers were, even if the answer was wrong.

Superiority is a naturally occurring phenomena and is part of competing, achieving, and criticizing. It is difficult for a person to feel they are “not good” or “worthless”, therefor most people have the need to prove their worth, “lest the awful truth be discovered”. And what is the one thing that “proves” ability and worth, without much effort? Criticizing others. By criticizing, the critic believes he demonstrates and accentuates his superiority over the criticized. This makes him feel superior, and his feeling of self worth increases.

Criticism and negative remarks have a negative impact on human beings in general, and even more so on children. Children might start to believe they are lazy, stupid, evil, and so on, and respond with a feeling of failure, despair, and they may give up entirely on making any efforts into proper function.

One of the most important principles of education for children, is the premise that you can achieve far better results and success by accentuating the positive actions and achievements of the child. Children know very well when they made a mistake, and are well able to learn from their mistakes and reach conclusions without all the remarks and negative comments we hurry to make.

Self aware parents are able to look into themselves, become aware of their emotions, and by doing so, change their approach and attitude towards their children, and towards their children’s actions. They are able to refrain from making negative comments or giving criticism, which as mentioned, is not effective nor efficient, and may in fact be detrimental to the parent-child relationship, and instead create a new kind of relationship based on encouragement, acceptance, mutual respect, sharing, and focusing on the positive aspects of the child.

I strongly believe we make the same mistake with the adults in our lives, and need to approach adults with the same care and consideration that we would approach our own children.


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