We may not want to admit it, but being judgmental is something that comes naturally. When we see other people who dress or act or talk in a manner that makes us uncomfortable or inappropriate, the first things that come to mind are critical remarks, and we label them as “bad” or “weird.”
When kids make mistakes — accidentally spilling a drink on the floor, waking their baby sibling up while playing, throwing a tantrum over something their parent refuses to give or do for them — some moms and dads might respond by saying things like, “Ikaw kasi, eh, nagising tuloy si baby!” or “Sa sobrang likot mo, natapon tuloy ‘yung pagkain!”
Without realizing it, parents had made their kids feel there is something wrong with them when, in fact, at their age, clumsiness was to be expected.
How being judgmental can harm your kids
We don’t want our kids to receive mean comments from their peers, but sometimes it might be right in the home when they first experience hearing similar remarks. Here are different ways that being judgmental can be hurting your child.
It doesn’t address the issue
Parenting expert and author Janet Lansburywrites on her website that judgments from parents can only make a child feel ashamed of what he has done, instead of addressing the bigger problem.
“The biggest problem with our hasty judgments…is that they slam the door on opportunities to be of real help to our children or ourselves,” says Lansbury. “The labels we apply to certain behaviors blind us to the causes of the behavior and what it is communicating.”
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Your child’s self-esteem takes a hit
Critical remarks from you may cause your child to think that he is wrong, worthless, and bad. Beverly Engel, the author of The Emotionally Abusive Relationship, tellsThe Bump that when children are made to feel like they can’t do anything right from the toddler or preschool years, they will eventually begin to believe that there is something inherently wrong with him.
Engel tellsThe Bump that children of critical parents usually don’t feel secure because they become entirely dependent on what their parents have to say about them. If he has developed the mindset that he will never measure up to his parents’ standards, he might become fearful of losing their love and attention. This sense of insecurity can last up until he becomes an adult.
Your child can suffer from long-term issues
According to Engel, children of critical parents have a higher risk of using drugs when they get older. The Bump also reports that, according to a report from the New York University Langone Medical Center, children of critical parents might use food as a source of solace, which can then lead to them gaining weight and becoming obese later in life.
Another survey found that children who were scolded and rebuked tend to develop various anxieties that they might carry with them throughout their lives — they might have difficulty dealing with adversity as adults, Scientific Americanreports.
Your relationship with your child can get strained
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On her website, Lansbury says that making quick judgments on your child’s behavior “creates distance and even dislike of our children (which can be hard to overcome), instead of understanding, empathy, and positive growth, all of which deepen our parent-child bonds.”
How to avoid being a judgmental parent
It’s not too late to try to lessen your tendency to be critical toward your child. By knowing that it’s okay to not be in control all the time and having a lot of patience, you can work towards being a more understanding parent to your little one and giving him room to learn from his mistakes.
For example, if your child refuses to get ready for school even though he is getting late and causing you to also get late for work, rather than saying, “Because of you, I can’t go to work on time!” try explaining the situation to him. You can say, “We have to go now because if you go to school late, you can get in trouble. If Mom goes to work late, I will also get in trouble, and that will make me very sad.”
This might be a more effective way to finally convince him to listen to what you are asking him to do while also informing him of the importance of that task.
Give your child the chance to fix the issue himself
Lifehackersays that, contrary to what some parents might think, children know when they have made a mistake. Chances are, by allowing him the opportunity to come to terms with what he has done and take responsibility for it, he will also know what he needs to do to remedy the situation.
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Don’t think everything has to go a certain way all the time
It is only natural for parents to want things to go well all the time, but living with young children can teach anyone that that is not always the case. So, moms and dads, remember that it is okay to let things slide sometimes! When your child slips up, try staying quiet about whatever criticism you might be thinking of and choosing to be more understanding instead.
In an article for Lifehacker, Sumitha Bhandarkar, founder of A Fine Parent, a personal development blog for parents, writes that whenever she would feel the urge to correct or criticize her child, she would tell herself, “She is just a 5-year-old.” Eventually, she got around to dropping the habit of criticizing her child and looking for opportunities to shower her child with words of praise. This strategy might just work for you!