Raise Confident Kids: Teaching Them How to Handle Criticism

By Kathleen Boucher

This article is the third in a series of articles on raising confident kids. Having confidence is a valuable life skill that will serve your children well.

If you’ve read the second article in this series, Raising Confident Kids: Attitude Counts, then you know that part of the process in building confidence is evaluating what is good about what they learn, and what needs improvement. Children need help to decipher valuable information and sage advice from vexatious comments. Walk them through how they might handle different situations where they feel criticized. What would they do if someone came up to them and said they were ugly, stupid, or didn’t like their shoes or hair? How they answer may give you an idea of how confident they are!

How is criticism described? One definition of criticism is:

  1. the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything
  2. the act of passing severe judgment; censure; faultfinding
  3. the act or art of analyzing and evaluating or judging the quality of a literary or artistic work, musical performance, art exhibit, dramatic production, etc.¹

 

In the book The Confidence Course, the author Walter Anderson says,

“I can still blush today when I consider the long years of unnecessary and agonizing embarrassment I experienced before I finally understood that handling criticism is a skill we can learn; that criticism itself is an opportunity to improve ourselves and to strengthen our relationships; that criticism can be a sincere testament to friendship. It’s easier to accept criticism, I’ve found when we learn not to take it personally and realize that it actually can enhance a relationship. We’re most often wrong when we think: “If you criticize me, you dislike me.”²

This is food for thought!

He explains that there are four steps to taking criticism:³

  1. Focus on the criticism only: Don’t focus on the critic, their emotions or your own.
  2. Find its value: There may be something valuable in what is being said, even if the delivery is poor. Ask for specifics. Don’t be saying “yes, yes” while the critic is speaking.
  3. Evaluate: Determine if this advice is something that you want to change or not.
  4. Say “thank you”: Enlist the critic’s help if possible. [Good manners always trump bad manners!]

It sounds like these four steps may need some practice. Talk to your kids about how they currently handle criticism. What would make it easier for them? Review the four steps to handling criticism: focus on the criticism only, find its value, evaluate, and say “thank you”.  Rehearse some criticizing scenarios and see how your children react. Often, it is not what is being said but how it is delivered that is the issue. Role-play with them and have some fun! Learning how to handle criticism is a life-skill that inspires confidence.

 

 

 

Bibliography

  1. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/criticisms
  2. Anderson Walter, The Confidence Course, The Most Important Class You Never Took In School, Seven Steps to Self-Fulfillment, Copyright© by Walter Anderson, published by Harper Collins Publisher, ISBN: 0-06-018729-8, page 173-174
  3. Anderson Walter, The Confidence Course, The Most Important Class You Never Took In School, Seven Steps to Self-Fulfillment, Copyright© by Walter Anderson, published by Harper Collins Publisher, ISBN: 0-06-018729-8, page 176-177 paraphrased.

Thank you to felix-koutchinski-679118-unsplash for the photo

 

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