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EXPLORING CRITICISM AND ITS ROLE IN DEVELOPING SELF-ESTEEM

EXPLORING CRITICISM AND ITS ROLE IN DEVELOPING SELF-ESTEEM

Have you ever created a poem or a painting, or an assignment? And did you receive appreciation, encouragement, and praise which made you feel accomplished?  

When you receive feedback, including positive or negative opinions or perspectives about your work, it can aid your creativity and enhance it to its best form. In a way, it helps you grow your perspective, contributing to personal and professional growth.

What is criticism?

When someone analyses something and presents its areas of improvement or expresses their view about it through approval or disapproval, they criticize it. The person who gives criticism is the critic. Different forms of criticism are as follows:

  • Criticism from Family: When a child receives criticism from their parents, friends or family members they usually receive it in a non-threatening manner. However, children constantly seek the approval of their parents, so if a child only receives negative criticism and never an appraisal, they might fixate on that and develop an unhealthy resentment towards it, and even display defiant behavior. There may also be a lack of confidence and fear of taking action. 
  • Criticism From a Teacher/Authority Figure: If a child receives a complaint from an apparent role model, they are most likely to apply it usefully, although when presented harshly, it may give rise to feelings of failure or confusion in the child, sometimes the child has no idea why his/her efforts are not appreciated which may result in weakening of Student-Teacher relationship and may affect the child’s self-esteem.
  • Criticism From Strangers: Criticism from strangers may prove to be helpful to an extent. However, it may also give rise to feeling inadequacy, especially on social media platforms where there is a constant comparison, leading to a generalized negative opinion about people.

Constructive criticism Vs. Destructive criticism

Constructive criticism refers to empowering and helping the receiver improve their work to achieve excellence by providing helpful suggestions or an alternative route. 

Whereas Destructive criticism is given with an underlying intent of jealousy or spitefulness or makes the person feel a deficit of merit, it can be a byproduct of prejudice. Destructive criticism has a very negative impact on the receiver. 

So it is always essential to keep Intent and Mechanism in mind.

The intentions can be good, for instance, in the case of our family members and teachers, but their mechanism or the way to put things can come out hurtful.

Constructive criticism Vs. Destructive criticism

Understanding self-worth & self-esteem

“Self-worth is recognizing I am greater than all of those things. It is a deep knowing that I am of value, that I am loveable, necessary to this life, and of incomprehensible worth.” – The concept of self-worth is portrayed through this quote by Dr. Christina Hibbert

Self-esteem is a person’s self-image, which is influenced by how the person perceives himself and how the world perceives him. Self-esteem is malleable and can be worked upon whenever necessary.

How Does Criticism Affect the Self-Esteem and Self-Worth of Children?

  • Criticism from parents can hamper emotional development in children. A study at Binghamton University suggests that children with critical parents avoid paying attention to faces which express emotions (James et al., 2018). 
  • When a child receives constant criticism at a young age, it gets deeply embedded in their psyche, especially coming from their parents it damages their idea of self-worth. 
  • In the long term, the child can be defensive of criticism. Moreover, due to fear of criticism, the child may be hesitant to open up to people around him, keep to themselves. A study suggests that children exposed to too much criticism can be at high risk for anxiety and depression, thus also affecting adult relationships, their mental health later in life (James et al., 2018). 
  • An adult’s self-worth may not be affected by others’ criticism, validation, but it may not be the same for a child. The validation, criticism, positive reinforcement that one receives as a child impacts the social relationship they build in future. The child begins to be afraid and skeptical of the outside world if there is too much negative criticism or experiences.

We should make an effort to be careful when we give feedback or critique to a child. When you evaluate a child’s behavior, work, or creation, the best way to approach it is by first telling them what you like about their work, the things they did right or adequately. Follow that with what the child needs to work on logically and precisely. Hence, you start with the positive and then go to the negative, thus giving the child constructive criticism. It is essential to communicate with your child; what is even more significant is how you carry it out. It is a way to give your child the atmosphere to grow into their best possible version.

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