1. Skip to Menu
  2. Skip to Content
  3. Skip to Footer>
Newsflash:
Thursday, 14 September 2000

Six-Year-Old Doesn't Like Criticism (Who Does?)

Written by  Marcia Levine Shbiro, M.A.

Rate this item
(0 votes)

QOur six-year-old son, who is a middle child, has a very hard time taking criticism. When we scold him for hurting someone accidentally or for bad behavior he gets extremely angry and embarrassed and usually runs off to his room yelling and crying and doesn't want to see us. A short while later, his rage seems to abate, but we're wondering if there is something we can do to help him accept criticism and understand that he needn't be so angry when such things happen.

AMany children have rather colorful reactions at this age to correction and to blows to their self-esteem. Your son is at the age when he has internalized your standards; they have become his own. When he does not live up to them, he feels he's not okay, that he's wrong.

Your letter raised a critical issue for parents about criticism as opposed to setting limits and educating. It's useful to remember our own wounded feelings and anger that even the most constructive criticism can cause.

Your letter raised a critical issue for parents about criticism as opposed to setting limits and educating. It's useful to remember our own wounded feelings and anger that even the most constructive criticism can cause.

It sounds as though your son feels momentarily overwhelmed by being wrong and by feeling wronged by you, since you are the ones who pointed out his failings. He may not be sure at whom he's angrier -- himself or you -- and whether anger or shame is paramount.

Paradoxically, one way to help children relax their high standards for themselves is to accept anger and shame as legitimate responses. Good people feel ashamed and angry and embarrassed. Your son's reactions sound like an age appropriate response and coping mechanism. As his reactions of anger and embarrassment become more acceptable to you and to him, his self-esteem won't be as damaged by his reactions and he won't need to feel so angry and embarrassed.

Parents often assume that their children should want to be with their parents when they are in the state you described. It's quite legitimate to need some space and recovery time alone. Although parents may often feel somewhat rejected at that point, understanding that it's a real coping mechanism may help lessen parents' own need to go to their children immediately.

In response to their child's anger, parents often will feel bewildered and overwhelmed. But they may be unaware that often they're also angry. This hidden anger often causes a more extreme reaction in the child. So it's useful for parents to identify, legitimize and cope with their anger as well.

Your letter raised a critical issue for parents about criticism as opposed to setting limits and educating. It's useful to remember our own wounded feelings and anger that even the most constructive criticism can cause. Criticism implies there is something wrong with us, not just that we're doing something the wrong way. In this example, the child is scolded for hurting someone accidentally, when there was no intent to hurt. So the criticism and the implied blame may not be useful to whatever educational message you, as parents, meant to convey.

Often, the best time to discuss the message in a non-critical fashion is after the child and/or parents' own anger has abated. It can then be discussed without blaming.

Last modified on Tuesday, 14 May 2013 14:06
Did You Like This? SHARE IT NOW!

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated.
Basic HTML code is allowed.

Marcia Levine Shbiro, M.A.

Marcia Levine Shbiro, M.A.

Marcia Levine, MA, is a child and adult psychotherapist.

Latest from Marcia Levine Shbiro, M.A.

Parenting Tips

FREE E-Book from Dr. Michael Tobin

Sign Up Now To Receive Your Link To Download
"The Battle of Parents and Teens"

Recommended Books


J-Town Internet Site Design