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    #223021 - 09/30/15 01:05 PM criticism and emotional intensity
    Pinecroft Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/19/11
    Posts: 99
    How do you 'soften the blow' with your emotionally intense child when you're offering a criticism?

    A great example: today my daughter asked my son about something he was saying he'd done in art at school. DD: "was it good" DS: 'yeah, it was ok" (or something like that) DD: "Oh, that means it wasn't good"... Ok, she is socially astute enough to know that it wasn't a nice thing to say (its not like he was offering up self criticism, nor was he looking for any feedback...). I called her in to the other room to let her know that what I'd heard didn't sound very nice - and she flipped out. (Note, I wasn't yelling, wasn't speaking harshly, accusing, etc., just letting her know.) This happens pretty much every time she hears something she doesn't like... (I asked DS after how he felt about her comment - he said he didn't care; I said how would you feel if *someone else* had said that, and he said 'oh, pretty terrible')

    Any suggestions for ways to share those less-than-complimentary reviews of our kids behavior when they are warranted? Yes, I could overlook some (and do!!), but sometimes a little feedback is needed... I've tried being gentle, assuming she didn't know that her comment might have been taken badly, etc., it almost always yields the same response.

    Anyone else have this problem?

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    #223023 - 09/30/15 01:25 PM Re: criticism and emotional intensity [Re: Pinecroft]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4920
    A version of the sandwich method can be helpful for giving constructive criticism.

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    #223024 - 09/30/15 01:52 PM Re: criticism and emotional intensity [Re: Pinecroft]
    Dude Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/04/11
    Posts: 2856
    I'm still working this one out myself.

    Just last night, when DD10 and I were discussing the many factors that influence how quickly one moves forward in gymnastics, I mentioned coachability, and how one receives and responds to critical feedback. DD's snap response: "I take criticism well, except from my parents."

    That has not always been our observation, but there's a ring of truth to it these days.

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    #223026 - 09/30/15 01:59 PM Re: criticism and emotional intensity [Re: Pinecroft]
    Can2K Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/25/14
    Posts: 226
    I'm not sure this is very helpful, but I think I'd try to ask questions about what _they_ think happened and whether or not it was OK. E.g. I noticed you said X to your brother. How do you think he felt about that? How would you feel in that situation?

    I feel like we have the opposite problem at our house - DS7 can't stand people saying anything nice about him/his work. He always contradicts you and says "No it was bad".

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    #223027 - 09/30/15 02:12 PM Re: criticism and emotional intensity [Re: Dude]
    suevv Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/10/12
    Posts: 381
    Originally Posted By: Dude
    DD's snap response: "I take criticism well, except from my parents."

    That has not always been our observation, but there's a ring of truth to it these days.


    The other day, my DS7 did a small non-optimal thing just as I was picking him up from school. The other (several years older) child snapped a bit, but both were moving on - until DS noticed that I'd seen what happened. He then went into huge histrionics about how it wasn't a big deal and the other kid was ridiculous to even comment about it and on and on. Fortunately, the other kid had pretty much already tuned out on the issue and I was able to get the heck out of Dodge.

    Later when DS calmed down and we were able to discuss, he asked with great exasperation, "Don't you realize I'm EMBARRASSED when you see me do something wrong?"

    He is a kid who knows he is loved unconditionally. Possibly as a partial result - he's also a very internally motivated kid (which is good, I think). But I came to realize that one huge external driver for him is wanting his dad and me to be proud of him, and think he's doing well.

    So there's that going on. Some sort of perfectionism tied up with wanting to make mom and dad happy. Could that be a factor for you?

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    #223029 - 09/30/15 02:36 PM Re: criticism and emotional intensity [Re: suevv]
    Dude Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/04/11
    Posts: 2856
    Originally Posted By: suevv
    So there's that going on. Some sort of perfectionism tied up with wanting to make mom and dad happy. Could that be a factor for you?


    In our case, absolutely. That's pretty much the entire story, beginning to end.

    This is one case in which identifying the nature of the problem does not lead to obvious solutions, because what are we supposed to do, make her like/respect us less?

    We try to embody the "failure is always an option" motto, and demonstrate it by emphasizing and laughing at our own. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes she just doesn't want to hear it.

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    #223030 - 09/30/15 02:43 PM Re: criticism and emotional intensity [Re: Dude]
    suevv Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/10/12
    Posts: 381
    Originally Posted By: Dude

    We try to embody the "failure is always an option" motto, and demonstrate it by emphasizing and laughing at our own. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes she just doesn't want to hear it.


    Well - I think that's really all you can do, along with the ongoing unconditional love thing. They are very cagey and slow trust/believe, these sensitive, connection-making, future-envisioning kids of ours.

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    #223031 - 09/30/15 02:45 PM Re: criticism and emotional intensity [Re: Pinecroft]
    Pinecroft Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/19/11
    Posts: 99
    Thanks Dude, glad to know I'm not alone. I'm suffering heavily at the moment!! This kid is one who *reacts* to the hilt. (Meanwhile, I have the intellectual OE going overtime in DS, telling me all about some kind of fruit that doesn't grow in our area... doing extra research as I ask him about hardiness zones, and whether it could grow indoors, etc... Getting it from both the positive - yet exhausting - and negative - and oh man even more exhausting - sides right now! LOL.) She digs into a position, and sticks with it.

    Can2K, thanks for the suggestion, I have tried that. She digs in her heels almost immediately, even if she *knows* she was wrong - she doesn't like to admit it, ever. EVER. She has told me she wouldn't care if someone said X to her. She also tends to ask her brother - and too often he couldn't care less what *she* says to him; he's so used to her negativity that it rolls off his back (now, as I mentioned above, if someone else said it, he'd be deeply injured!). He's too literal to understand that I need. him. to. lie. In that one situation only ;-) So that backfires on me ;-)

    The sandwich method might work. I have complimented her on many of her gifts that lead to issues in this house (she will be an excellent lawyer someday - can anyone say loophole? persistence?). That said, I haven't consciously tried that with her (I've done it many times in giving bad news to someone in writing though, so familiar with the technique!).

    I'm feeling very tired of difficult parenting at the moment.

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    #223032 - 09/30/15 02:51 PM Re: criticism and emotional intensity [Re: Pinecroft]
    Pinecroft Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/19/11
    Posts: 99
    I was dealing with DD (yes, still) and missed half this thread :-)

    I think you hit the nail on the head with the perfectionism. I'm not entirely convinced she wants to make us happy, but she doesn't like to be embarrassed. Unfortunately, she also refuses to do any constructive unpacking of her feelings. So no conversations after where she admits what happened or why something might have happened. I'm SO in for it with the teen years....

    But back to perfectionism. DD definitely doesn't like to be wrong. Good insight.

    How then, does one handle it when she is? Sigh. She's one tough cookie. And I feel like I am messing up (crumbling that cookie!) at every twist and turn lately. [sorry - insert feeling sorry for oneself emoticon - does that exist??]

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    #223043 - 09/30/15 05:48 PM Re: criticism and emotional intensity [Re: Pinecroft]
    Ametrine Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/27/11
    Posts: 741
    Just from what you gave as an example of your daughter's response, I have a question. Is she normally blunt? I'm guessing so, because your son didn't seem to take offense to her question.

    Perhaps this is her "style" of speaking. It will cause her considerable grief if she doesn't learn to "soften" it up. I know.

    Something my mom taught me was to THINK before speaking. I learned to anticipate what my gut-reaction response to a person would produce from them and re-formulate in my mind how I spoke. It took a LONG time to learn. Many times I heard, "Watch your mouth!" from mom.

    Placing oneself mentally in the others' position (sort of "out of body") can sometimes help. That is, if the person doing the exercise has empathy. I'm sure your DD does; especially for her brother.

    I still slip and find myself saying the most awful blunt things. An example was at a social dinner in which a co-worker brought his new girlfriend (his wife had recently passed). I inquired about her line of work. She said she was "_______." To which I responded, "I don't know anything about that." *cringe* (In my defense, I'm socially awkward...can you tell?)

    Bluntness is possibly her thing. If she can tone it down, she'll do much better.


    Edited by Ametrine (09/30/15 05:50 PM)
    Edit Reason: comma coming

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