Criticism vs Child Discipline: What’s the Difference?

Last update: September 15th, 2019 at 9:26 PM

Knowingly or unknowingly, each one of us criticizes our kids on a daily basis. Pretty often, we can easily find new reasons for giving children a tongue-lashing. But does it make any sense? Let’s find out what the difference between criticism vs child discipline is, and why the second option should be your top priority.

Why do we have to make any remarks?

Because if we don’t tell them which mistakes they are making, they’ll never correct their behavior. So criticism is necessary for the upbringing and forming good habits.

But do you watch your words when you criticize your kids?

You think you improve them by finding their faults and criticizing them. But what do your little ones think? How do they feel? And, most importantly, which consequences it has? Let’s explore how criticism vs child discipline differ, and what is the better choice.


Sometimes scolding and verbal abuse happens simply because we get nervous. We don’t mean to hurt our kids.

We’re all human beings…run more by emotions than logic, and therefore keep making mistakes every now and then. Nobody wants to make a mistake. They just happen. And we never criticize ourselves for them, no matter what blunder we may commit.

More on the topic: Why punishments don’t work, and which alternatives do?

Whenever someone else makes a mistake, we jump out of our soul to criticize the person, as if we were to win a gold medal for that. Without going into the facts, we pass our own judgment holding that person guilty and expect him to give a confession for what he did.

But who actually wins from that?

Kids have more difficulty in handling criticism because they know nothing about dealing with it.

We, adults, are often driven by our self-esteem, ego, and feelings when we communicate with people. And we don’t want the ego to be shattered – that’s why our mind is closed for criticism fully or partially. Kids haven’t learned to build such a barrier yet: they are very sensitive to the words of criticism. Their mind isn’t able to reject criticism yet.

Effects of Criticism

Criticism hurts and shatters our ego, poisons our emotions and enthusiasm and demoralizes us. The same applies to children, but their pain is way more intense. And the worst part is, it defeats its own purpose very much. Not only it fails to correct the child behavior, but it also arouses hatred in the heart of the kid against parents. Things get messed up more than before.

Complains, condemning, ridiculing, scolding, shouting, humiliation and insult – any criticism is futile!

The deadliest forms of criticism are an insult and verbal abuse – this is a serious parents’ mistake. The damage they do to the victim is many times what criticism does. We cause extreme insult and humiliation to our kids when we shout or pass ridiculous comments complaining and condemning our kids.

If you scold, your child he’ll certainly condemn you, in your presence or absence. He’ll defend and justify himself, and tell himself, ‘Papa doesn’t understand me … he is a bad man… I hate him… he knows scolding only. I’ll be happy if someone scolds him as well. I’m not going to listen to him anymore.’

So don’t criticize your kids – let them learn by mistakes instead.

More on the topic: How to Stop Snapping at Your Child

Destructive criticism vs child discipline (constructive criticism)

You can improve your kids’ behavior without hurting their self-esteem, ego and feelings.

This way is called ‘constructive criticism’.

Constructive criticisms or positive criticism gets more effective if it is coupled with the art of criticism. This approach helps to make the lesson learned without destroying kid’s personality.

So, what are the peculiarities of constructive criticism?

  • Aims at improving the child behavior.
  • Focuses on child’s behavior and exact actions, not on her or his person.
  • Is genuine without any prejudices.
  • Is sincere and generous.
  • Makes the children ready for accepting criticism.
  • Is far more helpful than a blunt criticism of the child’s faults.
  • Helps kids identify their weaknesses and work on them.
  • Allows the child to make decisions.
  • Has the rational grain.
  • Gives a real message to the child that you truly want him to improve.

Let’s compare how destructive criticism vs child discipline differ.

Say, Jim and John both study in Second Grade. Both got ‘B’ grade in the midterm maths test and ‘A’ grade in English. Let’s see how their mothers respond:



Mom: I knew you can never get anything better than ‘B’ in maths. You always make careless mistakes. You never listen to me. How many times have I told you this… and .. that Mom: Got an ‘A’ in English! That’s very good! That shows how hard did you work for English, and if you work a little harder in Maths, you could get an ‘A’ in Maths as well.
Destructive criticism Constructive criticism

Parents sticking to destructive criticism focus on kid’s failures instead of giving them hope and useful guidance. Instead of scolding them, we can recommend things that will help them to correct mistakes and improve the situation.

In an article published by Psychology Today, Kenneth Barish Ph.D. said:

There is no better antidote for frequent criticism and argument, and no better way to help children bounce back from the common frustrations and disappointments of childhood than patient and respectful listening.”

Criticism is a wrong path – it won’t lead you anywhere. So any time you get pissed off and ready to shout, stop and think it over. Now when you know the difference between criticism vs child discipline, try to make constructive remarks and tell your kid what he has done wrong without throwing tantrums.

How do you manage to leash your anger and disappointment? What is your method of healthy criticism? MarvelMama readers would appreciate your opinion!


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About nikamarvelmaker

I'm a loving mom with a strong passion for creative writing and wordplay. Freelancing since 2013, I focus on translation and crypto copywriting (Bitcoins can be fun, too). My jam-packed daily schedule includes parenting, homemaking, work and blogging on MarvelMama, and I enjoy every second of my ever-busy life.
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