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What does negative criticism do to a teen?

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Question: What does negative criticism do to a teen?
Answer: When a teen is consistently bombarded by negative criticism by his parent he will begin to internalize the words and believe them, whether they are true or not. This will effect a teen in these five ways:
  1. He will have a negative view of himself.
  2. He will have poor self respect and respect for others.
  3. He will feel insecure about his abilities.
  4. He will feel powerless – unable to help himself and others.
  5. He will have a lower his sense of self-worth.
These feelings of self doubt and insecurity will cause a teen to do these things:
  • He will withdrawal, be less likely to communicate with the parent.
  • He will use lying and not listening as a defense against the negative criticism.
  • He will become argumentative.
  • He will manipulate others and events so that he does not have to take the blame.
Reading that list, you can see why avoiding negative criticism is important if parents want to effectively communicate with their teen.

Disapproving Remarks Verses Criticism in Discipline

It is worth noting that disapproval of the actions a teen did that caused you to discipline him is not negative criticism. Parents can check to see if their disapproving remarks is constructive and responsible discipline by asking themselves these questions:
  • Did I disapprove of my teen’s self or the action my teen took?
    Teens need to know that you love them unconditionally, even when their actions make you upset. If you use disapproving remarks against the actions, then you are not using negative criticism.

  • Did I give constructive feedback, explaining why the action was wrong and what could be done the next time?
    When you explain why you are correcting your teen, using examples of the action, you are not using negative criticism.

  • Did I ask my teen what he she could do differently the next time?
    When you problem solve with your teen, you are not using negative criticism. You are looking for the answer together so that next time your teen can do so independently.

  • Did I use hurtful words?
    Hurtful words have no place in discipline. This is negative criticism.

See how this advice can help you improve your communication skills in this parenting class: Learn to Communicate Effectively with Your Teen in 5 Days.

Parenting Quizzes for Parents of Teens

Quick Links: Quiz: Do You Use Fair and Firm Discipline?

Source: The Disease Called Criticism, Laurence C. Smith, Jr., PhD.

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