5 Ways to Stop Being a Toxic Critical Parent

After my last two posts, you might have realized that you are more critical than you would like with your child. No need to go into instant panic mode if you’ve caught yourself being overly critical, but it is time to change your ways. Experts say that the negative impact on wellbeing that overly critical parents have, is comparable in scale to that observed in people who have suffered a bereavement. Thankfully, We can overcome our natural tendencies and break the cycle.

1. Awareness

You’re probably the last to know whether you’re an overly critical person. If someone says you’re too critical, you probably are. The first step to change our ways to be aware that we need to change. Go back to my previous post and check yourself.

2. Listening

There is no better cure for constant criticism than patient and respectful listening. Listening to our children doesn’t mean we have to agree with what they’re saying, or that we have to give in to all of their demands. It just means that we make a sincere effort to understand their point of view, and to acknowledge their feelings and perspective.

If you find yourself constantly repeating things, and frustrated because your child doesn’t listen; check how you’re modeling what listening is.

 

3. Avoid Overreacting and Creating Mountains Out Of Molehills

Before opening your mouth to criticize or point out something wrong about your child, stop and question yourself. Is that really a necessary, useful, constructive and uplifting feedback? If the answer is no, learn to put things in perspective and let things slide every once in a while.

Strike a balance between being in charge and letting your child have freedom. Even if you don’t like the mismatched socks or the messy playroom, swallow your criticism and give your child space to learn from his mistakes and become the person he’s meant to be.

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4. Describe Behavior, Not The Child

When there’s really a behavior that needs to be addressed, show respect to your child and focus on the negative behavior rather than speaking negatively about your child. By focusing on behavior, you can help your child see her actions as something she needs to work on rather than questioning her self-worth.

Of course, avoid any kind of insults and character assassination. As you know, our words become our child’s inner voice. We want that inner voice to be positive and empowering, not critical and destructive.

Finally, avoid making generalizations. When correcting your child, describe the specific situation. Instead of “you never listen,” try “you did not listen to me now when I asked you to empty your backpack.” That way, your child understand that there’s something specific they can work on and change. Whereas if it’s something they ‘always’ do, they will assume it’s part of their character and will feel less capable of changing it.

 

5. Give 5 Positive Comments For Every Negative One

Like Dr. Phil says “It takes 1,000 ‘atta boys’ to erase one ‘you’re an idiot.” Make it a rule for yourself to make sure you give 5 positive comments to your child for every negative one. At the beginning it’ll be difficult to focus on the positive and embrace your child as she is, but the more you do it, the easier it will be.

Make your praise and positive comments as descriptive as possible. Avoid using empty or vague comments such as “Great job” or “Good girl.” Instead describe what they’ve done that you felt needed to be note “You were very loving when you helped your sister climb up the stairs,” or “You did a tremendous job cleaning up your toys after your playdate.”

Try to make you statements about them, not about you. Notice I didn’t say “I like how you cleaned up your toys,” but “You did a tremendous job cleaning up your toys.” There’s no condition for my liking them. The idea here is to help your child develop a sense of internal evaluation, allowing them to take responsibility for their actions and pride in their achievements.

Let’s all work on being less critical to our children!

Much love, Diana-

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