The effect of criticism on children

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

How children collect information about the world

I am sure you know that criticism is bad for children but do you have any idea how bad it is?

In their early years children collect information about themselves and the world from their caregivers and the people they come in contact with. Because children are born without any information about the world they tend to accept whatever they get told. (see also How children develop their personalities

If i brought you an orange and told you that its an apple you will never believe me simply because you already have some information about oranges but what if you have never seen an orange before?

Most probably you will believe me even if i was wrong. This is exactly what happens with children who get criticized often by the people they come in contact with.

The effect of criticism on children

So how does criticism affect children exactly?

  • 1) It affects their attachment style: When children get criticized in a way that makes them feel worthless they might question the love of their parents. In other words some children might end up feeling unloved and as a result they might start to look for love elsewhere. Many sex addicts, controlling people and narcissists are adults who were deprived of love when they were children
  • 2) Shame complex: When a child is criticized often he starts to feel ashamed of himself. As the time passes the criticism this child gets subjected to makes him believe that something is wrong with him. This kind of shame might force that child to become socially withdrawn, to fear expressing his emotions and to fear taking risks.
  • 3) The development of the wrong identity In the Solid Self confidence program i said that When a child gets told that he is lazy, dumb or stupid everyday tens of times he tends to believe in these words and to consider them facts. Later on when that child grows he might unconsciously try prove the beliefs he learned earlier right. That child might fail to study or concentrate just because his subconscious mind wants to prove that he is a loser in order to fulfill the prophecy.
  • 4) Loss of self confidence: Most probably you have already guessed this one. When a child gets criticized he usually thinks of each word with disregard to the context. If a child was always told that he is lazy then he will believe that he is lazy after sometime. These new beliefs affects the child's self confidence and makes him think that he is not that worthy
  • 5) Development of emotional wounds & over sensitivity If a child was always told that he is stupid, dumb, lazy or any other humiliating word then he might develop an emotional wound that lasts for his life time. Whenever someone says any word that unconsciously reminds that child of his wound then it will hurt him so much. If for example the child believed that he was stupid then any remark that reminds him of this unconscious wound will make him feel really bad

How to raise healthy children

Its better to avoid criticism all together because children are usually too fragile to handle them,however if criticism is a must, then you must make sure that the child understands the purpose behind it instead of letting him think that you are telling him that he is defective.

People form their personalities in their early years then live with these personalities for decades, that's why you need to be cautious while raising your children.

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