Encourage children to give themselves feedback. We all, even children, have a nagging little inner voice that gets cross and tells us off but it needs to learn how to give feedback in a way that we can learn from it, not feel permanently stupid and lose confidence.
Here’s how to do it:
- What specifically went well today? (3 things)
- What could have been better? (1 thing)
- How could I do that better next time?
- Overall, what lessons have I learnt?
We have a tendency to have a preference whether visual, auditory or kinaesthetic so if your child generally tends to notice people’s visual response to them, encourage them to also listen to what is said and what I done so that you can open their minds up to all three types of feedback.
- Immediate – there’s no point in spending days thinking about it and then expecting them to remember what they did. Children have very short memories and will have forgotten what they did, what they did it and wonder why you’re talking about it days later.
- Specific – you need to draw their attention to the specific thing they did or said and what exactly they need to do more of or less of because they won’t be able to read your mind. They need to know what you want from them.
- Sincere – the feedback needs to reflect what you think and what you believe and be something they can see is of value to you. Use ‘I’ to show that it is what you think and don’t bring other people into it. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Keep this between you and your child.
- Short – avoid long sentences and lengthy explanations about why you feel like this it isn’t helpful. Use the KISS principle – keep it simple stupid.
- What you do want – avoid the word ‘don’t’ tell them instead what you want them to do; either more of something or less of something.
- Avoiding the word ‘but’ because your positive start will be forgotten once you use the word ‘but’. Replace it with the word ‘and’.
- Accepting because you are not a mind reader so don’t presume to know what their intentions were. Instead give them the benefit of the doubt and look for their positive intention. For the most part, children want to please you but their map of the world is different to yours with other more pressing priorities such as playing!
- Focused on the behaviour rather than being a personal attack on their identity.
The giving and receiving of feedback is how we learn. As parents we can be inclined to jump in and do things for our children, take responsibility for organising them and their free time, even decide when and where homework should be done. Allowing children to take responsibility from an early age means that they will make mistakes and our job is to allow them to do that and let them get the learning so that the next time they do it, they do it better. The best way to show them how to respond is to pause, be curious about the learning and thank the giver of the feedback.
Give feedback to your children with love and focus on how they can learn from it and become the excellent human being you want them to be.