Promoting positive behaviour through constructive criticism

Promoting Positive Behaviour through constructive criticism

Unless children are doing something that poses a high risk of disastrous results, sometimes it’s best to let them figure things out on their own and learn through the experience rather than telling them step-by-step what they should or shouldn’t have done or could have done better. Experience is sometimes the best teacher. “Constructive criticism” should be encouraging, helpful, and timely – not negative. When offering children constructive criticism about their work, behaviors, or attempts at doing things on their own, think about the following:

  1. Even though a parent may be frustrated with a child’s behaviour, they should not use belittling language, an angry or frustrated tone of voice, or making fun of a child’s honest mistakes.
  2. When there is a need to critique, be ready to teach. A parent should have a child’s undivided attention before voicing their concerns. Direct constructive criticisms toward the behaviour or mistake, not the child. Parents should set the example of what they want their children to learn by taking the time to show them. Ask “May I tell/show you what usually works for me?” “Let me show you what helps me…” Offer the child an opportunity to correct his/ her mistake whether it’s repeating a chore that wasn’t done properly or correcting an inappropriate or incorrect behavior.
  3. Never make one-sided, hurtful comments; be ready to address specific actions or behaviors with a lesson or helpful and thoughtful suggestion. Using positive words yields positive results. “You really do __________ well. Next time, you might also try…” “This way helped me a lot when I was learning to…”
  4. Never use name-calling or label, even in jest, as it is really hurtful for a child and will affect their self-esteem. Never openly criticize children in front of others. It’s hard enough to accept criticism, even constructive criticism, when there is an audience present.
  5. Take advantage of teachable moments by offering help and constructive criticism – unless it really just isn’t the time or place to do so. Timing is everything; a parent should not wait until the child has forgotten the incident or mistake. A parent needs to make it clear to a child that they are offering suggestions and constructive criticism so he/she can do better next time. Don’t dwell on a child’s past mistakes. Constructive criticism is for the future, not the past.
  6. Parents should use a voice that has the tone of a helpful attitude. A knee-jerk reaction of screaming and yelling or using other derogatory remarks deflates self-esteem and falls on deaf ears. If a child hears an angry voice, that’s all he/she will hear. Our goal as parents is to give constructive criticism as painlessly and tactfully as possible so the child will receive it properly and learn from it.
  7. Remember, sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all. When children realize their own mistakes, they are less likely to repeat them. There is nothing to gain by pointing out and dwelling on their mistakes when it’s obvious they learned something from them.

©Lifestart Foundation 2018

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Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.

 

The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books (www.mychild.ie/books) and also on www.MyChild.ie  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.

 

In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  

 

Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  

 

In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the www.mychild.ie website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at www.mychild.ie

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from healthy.childhood@hse.ie

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