Children make mistakes – sometimes a lot of them. But what’s the best way to correct children when they do something wrong? Experts believe that you need to communicate that they’ve made a mistake, but the way in which you tell them makes all the difference.
For instance, avoid telling your child that you are disappointed in them. Additionally, personal criticism such as “You are messy” or “Why can’t you do this?” can make a child feel inferior. Research has found that children who are given personal criticism tend to believe that they aren’t good at the tasks they are asked to perform and in the future are more likely to give up without trying to overcome the problems they face.
Instead, a more productive way to teach children to overcome their shortcomings or mistakes is to keep things less personal. Talk about their failure as a quality that they can alter, not as something that is intrinsic. Tell them that they are “being messy” and offer them solutions to improve on their behaviour.
In experiments, children who were given constructive criticism in an encouraging way, such as, “How could this be done better?” were more likely to persist in completing tasks properly. Those children were also more optimistic.
Another tactic that parents use, shaming a child, may also not be the best way to get them to learn from their mistakes. Parents may believe that shaming leads a child to feel guilty. However, psychologists think that feelings of guilt and feelings of shame are different. While guilt is connected with a need to make things right, shame can make people angry and not necessarily remorseful.
That’s why explaining to children how they went wrong, but also offering constructive solutions on ways to remedy the situation may be a better way to correct them.
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