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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Guidelines for Criticizing Children


This is an excerpt from my book All Behavior is Communication: How to Give Feedback, Criticism, and Corrections that Improve Behavior. This book is now available on Amazon.

1.      As a rule, teachers and parents should criticize only problems that the child can solve. Criticism is a tool to make children aware of something that they did poorly.

2.      When criticizing children, use more observations, that is, what you see, hear, or can touch and make fewer evaluations. An evaluation involves making inferences about the things that we observe.

3.      Use more observation language, that is, concrete information that contributes to the child’s learning, and less evaluative language of the kind good/bad, right/wrong, or correct/incorrect.

4.      When we criticize a student, we need to make sure that we are criticizing the child’s actions, not the child’s character. Examples of criticizing children’s character are:

·         You better start acting like a ten years old.

·         You have a potty mouth.

·         You show no respect for anyone!

5.      Criticizing the child’s character sends the message to the student that the deficit in the skill or behavior is permanent and/or global, and it is not going to change.

6.      Messages that criticize character are “you” messages, for example, “You have a potty mouth!” or “You are always messing up.” When there is a strong feeling, deliver the feeling using an “I” message instead. An “I” message describes what we are feeling and the reason for this feeling. For example, rather than saying, “Don’t you dare using that language with me!” say, “I am upset because I do not like being cursed.” “I” messages always start with “I feel…” “I like…” or “I do not like…”

7.      When we are handling a strong feeling, it is important to identify both the unacceptable behavior (e.g., “That language is inappropriate”) and our feelings about the behavior (“I feel like leaving the room when I hear that language”). Finally, we can point out an acceptable alternative, for example, “When you talk without cursing, I will listen to what you have to say.”

8.      Express disapproval for the inappropriate behavior by stating the effect of the behavior on you and/or others; then point out your feelings about the behavior. For example, you would say, “Nicky, when you call names, other children in the classroom feel embarrassed and I feel annoyed.”

9.      Show concern for the inappropriate behavior rather than showing anger. Then, add a statement about how the inappropriate behavior is affecting the child. For example, say, “What concerns me the most about this name-calling behavior is that, because they feel angry, the other kids are refusing to play with you; when no one plays with you, you are going to feel very lonely.”

10.  Minimize the child’s errors and mistakes. Use effort feedback and help the child focus on effort or trying rather than outcomes (success or failure). Remind the child that “Tomorrow is another day to try.”

Related Reading...


All Behavior is Communication: How to Give Feedback, Criticism, and Corrections that Improve Behavior

To preview this book on Amazon, click here.


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