Giving constructive criticism to our sons so that they hear and accept it can be so tough, especially when our boys are in their middle and high school years. Constructive criticism lets them know they could do something better without blaming or shaming them. Takes a lot of parenting skill to get this right! We at GCP believe strongly in thoughtful, focused and mindful or “Conscious” Parenting, and want to pass along Conscious Parenting resources whenever and wherever we find them.
We recently found a series of tips on how to give constructive criticism for employers in an article on entrepreneur.com. These tips seem pretty helpful for parents as well. We repeat them below with our parenting spin.
Tips for Giving Our Sons Constructive Criticism
1. Time it right.
Never criticize in the moment. Your son is not going to want to (or even be able to) hear about the mistakes he has made moments after he made them. Be kind and pleasant in the moment and then pick a better time to give advice.
2. Check yourself.
How big a deal is it, anyway? Make sure that you are focused on helping him avoid making a similar mistake in the future and are not looking for an excuse to ride him about something that pushes one of your buttons.
3. Use a “straw man.”
If you think your son will feel threatened and defensive if you tell him directly about his mistakes or how he could do better, try to give the critique through a story about something similar happening to you or someone he knows and trusts. It’s so much easier for him to swallow when it’s not straight out about him and his mistakes.
4. Focus on actions, not the person.
Focus on what your son’s actions, rather than on him as a person. Consistently sloppy schoolwork? Note that he isn’t finishing the editing of his school work, not that he is doing it wrong. Regularly unfinished chores? Let him know that he didn’t finish the task he was supposed to do, rather than call him lazy.
5. Don’t share feedback until you need to.
If your son is about to hand in a paper, for example, this is not the time to start telling him everything that could have been done better. Wait until the next assignment. Then you can make suggestions for him to consider as he starts the process.
Have any more tips to add? Send them along!