Browsing Tag

criticising criticism

Is this helpful?

25th August 2015

Continuing on from my earlier blogs on “Criticising Criticism”:

When I notice someone being criticised I often think to myself, “is that criticism helpful?” I consider whether anything was needed to be said at all and, if so, whether what was said or done was achieved in a helpful way – meaning without side effects such as the criticised person feeling blamed, shamed or humiliated in t3D-Women-Question-mark-01he process (damage to the relationship being worthy of consideration and ideally a priority factor in deciding how we behave). I also note the tone and potential background meaning of the words and actions used; appreciating that when we feel attacked or otherwise stressed we shut down parts of our pre-frontal cortex that help us to think clearly, we go into survival mode, and being willing and able to change something we’ve been doing is made far more difficult. The criticism needs also to be effective and for that to occur we need to be really clear about what we are really suggesting that the person do or change – what actually is the issue? Is it something that they can change or a mess they could clean up? So often we have the best intentions for guiding someone else’s behaviour but it still comes out wrong due to not recognising or focussing on the real issue. Other times, of course, we’re just plain fed up with someone or circumstances and out it blurts!

The next tricky part, I find, is working out whether it is helpful for me to then make comment on the criticism; to either point out that, “really, was it such a big deal that it needed to be criticised?” or else, “what’s another way you could get that message across?” To be honest, mostlPACE rainbow flagy I skip that part of care-filled consideration and jump straight to the criticism of the criticism, filled far less with care and far more with the very blame, shame or humiliation that I felt the need to comment on in the first place! Hmmmm. No pause, just straight in for the kill. It sounds like I’ll do well to focus on that aspect first. PAUSE before intervening with my (well-meaning though perhaps prematurely formed) two-cents worth, intending to generate PEACE.


I’ll be back soon to further discuss how the PAUSE practice has worked out…

“Don’t tell me what to do!”

29th July 2015

Following on from Criticising Criticism:

A further problem I encounter with offering observations or suggesting other ways of doing things (including about how to offer observations and make suggestions to others) is that depending on their own special combination of genes and experiences people choose sometimes vastly different responses when criticism is perceived. Some are open to hearing and may or may not take it on, some ignore it, others go on the attack. So this tricky issue is not just about supporting children to see that there can be another way of interacting with people than criticising them, it can also be very difficult to apply to other adults. I find the only time I feel a need to criticise my husband’s parenting of our girls is when he is (I believe unfairly, and unhelpfully – of course I attempt to justify my actions here) criticising them. So then I criticise his criticism. And, to his own admission, he has a strong, early-years-created, knee-jerk response of “don’t tell me what to do!” (yet, he’s very happy to be telling the girls what to do… We are often full of contradictions in our parenting). Oh woe is me! Still asking the universe for support in unravelling this puzzle…

The quest continues as I consider whether the criticism is helpful…

Criticising Criticism

28th July 2015

Oh dear, I’ve had a bit of a conundrum to deal with lately. How do I point out to my girls the potential damage of their criticisms of each other without criticising them about it?

I already know from previous realisations that it doesn’t help the child if I yell at them to “be quiet!” or if I snatch an item off them that they’ve just snatched off another child. So how do I increase their awareness of the negative side effects that occur from criticising someone, without my attempt at enlightenment appearing to be a criticism itself – which it is, to be fair?

Now, I know that the best way for children (and indeed all human beings) to learn is to see the positive behaviour in action, to have it modelled for us. So I’ve been working away at modelling “not criticism” for my girls (most of the time). However the fly in the ointment here is that it is really, really, not obvious to someone that we are not criticising them. For example: a child is happily singing a song and the words are not correct. I choose to say “oh, I’m enjoying your singing” or just smile, saying nothing, or even just doing nothing at all – after all it’s not really about me is it, it’s about her joy in her song. Really, who cares if she’s singing the “wrong” words. Her big sister however feels the need to point out that little one has the words wrong. If I then jump in and say “oh, it doesn’t matter about the words, it’s the love of singing that matters” I’m then criticising the big sister for criticising her little sister. Doh!

Yesterday I was having lunch with a wonderful wise woman to whom I posed this potential dilemma. She suggested that perhaps I could utilise Shakespeare’s way of taking the air out from under the criticism moment by way of humour or clever irony. Perhaps I could work with the girls to create this – similar to our “tip top” (in sing-song voice) which means “please stop rocking on your chair, it’s not good for the chair and potentially not good for you either” J. I’m keen to give this a try. If nothing else it has the possibility of raising their awareness about criticism and having them consider other alternatives to just diving in and correcting someone because we think they’re doing something wrong, by our definition.

Well, I’ll be back to update this with how we go along this journey.

Continuing on…