“I thought you did well but I didn’t really understand what you meant by that sentence. Maybe you can elaborate on it?”
“What do you mean when you said you don’t understand it? I thought you can see that the teacher is against me. Isn’t it obvious? I am obviously one of the best in class and yet this teacher gave me a low score on purpose. Why? Isn’t it obvious he hates me?”
Jake’s father could see that Jake has completely shut down. He knows better that it is time to back off than to provide feedback. He sighs. It is always a struggle to provide feedback to Jake – who gets wounded too easily by any constructive feedback.
What has happened here?
Every Constructive Feedback reminds them that they are really a Failure
When your child takes any constructive feedback as a personal feedback, it can become very emotionally draining for both parents and child as they child tends to overreact to it. Children who are highly sensitive take criticism very personally even though the constructive feedback provided are really for their own good.
As a child who is very used to being praised, any negative feedback seems to shake them out of their comfort zone terribly. It serves as an unrealistic reminder to them that they are not performing up to expectations they perceive others have of them and that they are not all that they are cracked up to be. It is as if they are afraid that they are not really that intelligent which they have always been led to believe.
Furthermore, what may have aggravated the misunderstanding above is that the child tends to take criticism from parents more personally than from others. This is due that the child tends to place the highest emphasis on their parents’ feelings more than anyone’s else.
Strategies to Help Your Child Cope with Criticisms
Lay the Options Clearly
Parents can be over-zealous in offering feedback. When dealing with a sensitive child, it is better to offer lesser feedback gently than going all out on a warpath.
As parents, things can be a little tricky when your child asks for your opinion on their work. Before you make any comments, you must ask the child if they would like your opinion to improve their work or are they just sharing it with you. This way, you can keep your thoughts to yourself if your child chooses the “Just Sharing” option and just state observations instead.
If your child asks for improvements, ask for specifics. For example, if your child asks to judge her essay, asks if they are looking for possible readers’ engagement or sentences structures or such. When you give vague statements, your child may feel frustrated as they may not know how to improve it.
Help the Teachers
When your child believes the teacher criticised their work, they may mistakenly assume that the teacher is just criticising them out of jealousy. Some may compare their work with weaker students and believe the teacher may have a personal grudge against them as they perceive themselves to be better than the rest. That is when you need to explain to your child that it is the teacher’s job to ensure that every child is being stretched to their own potential and how another student’s progress is really irrelevant to their progress.
Responding to Criticisms
One way to aid your child is to help them to identify the specific feedback required to improve. The steps are as shown below:
If it is a younger child or there are only a few comments, you can start off with 2 questions:
This encourages your child to self-talk and learn how to regulate their emotions from young.
If it is an older child, he/she may feel overwhelmed by the amount of feedback received from the teacher. Thus, they need to write down in order to have a clearer picture of what they should do next. The goal of this exercise is to ensure your child realises that no problem is too big if they break it down.
The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them by Elaine Aron
Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
Freeing Your Child from Anxiety: Powerful, Practical Solutions to Overcome Your Child’s Fears, Worries, and Phobias by Tamar Chansky Ph.D.
Parenting the Highly Sensitive Child: A Guide for Parents & Caregivers of ADHD, Indigo and Highly Sensitive Children by Julie B. Rosenshein