Are your children getting the right feedback?

February 15th, 2013 @   -  No Comments

Children begin to receive feedback from their parents as soon as they are born. Feedback can be positive or negative. One encourages while the other corrects and discourages certain behavior. It communicates to others your approval or disapproval of a particular matter. Feedback is not always verbal. Sometimes it is expressed through body language. We are giving children feedback all the time whether we are conscious of it or not. That is why we must ask whether our feedback is effective. What impact does our feedback have on the child? And what is the best way to deliver feedback?

 Are your expectations realistic?

Feedback based on unrealistic expectations of your child can be very damaging. Imagine your child just started learning to write, but he can’t hold the pencil properly. So you help him practice a few times, but he still gets it wrong. You find this frustrating. Although your expectation is unrealistic, your frustration can make him feel inadequate for not learning quicker. He may become frustrated with himself, give up or start to dislike learning altogether. So, check your expectations and adjust them to be more realistic.

Check your assumptions

What we believe is wrong may not be so apparent to children. For example, a child may not know the difference between writing on paper and on a wall. What’s more, their wrongdoing can stem from good intentions. So, don’t jump to conclusions and assume you know why the child did something. Do not yell at them the very first time they make a mistake. Ask for the reasons behind their actions. Take the time to calmly explain why their behavior may be wrong.

Be kind in your feedback

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was kind and gentle when he gave feedback. Even when the mistakes of those around him proved costly and injured him, he was still levelheaded with them. In response to this, Allah revealed, “And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over (their faults), and ask (Allah’s) Forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs” (Quran 3:159).This also applies to children. They are less likely to listen to or accept feedback when it is harsh. This is why many children reject their parents’ guidance. Instead, they turn to their friends or outsiders who are gentler, even if they are providing wrong and unsuitable feedback.


Rules have to be clear. Allah outlined for us exactly what is wrong and right in the Quran so we can live by it. The feedback we give children will instill in them certain principles and values. So when a child receives feedback, it must be clear. That way, they understand exactly what the feedback is for and if a mistake was committed, they should learn how to fix it and avoid future repeats.

Parents should also be on the same page when giving feedback. In some cases, one parent may reprimand the child for doing something wrong, while the other feels pity towards him, comforts him or gives him a treat. This confuses the child. Both parents should be united when correcting a child’s behavior or praising the child. After the lesson is learned, both parents can comfort him/her.

Be fair

Do not punish one child for something wrong while allowing the other to get away with his mistakes. Similarly, do not encourage one child and disregard the other.

Balance corrective and encouraging feedback

There has to be a balance between corrective or critical feedback and praise or encouraging feedback. This will allow children to learn from their mistakes and build on their strengths. If you are overly critical and seldom give encouraging feedback, make a conscious effort to notice and mention your children’s good work and behavior.

Children need your approval. If all they get from you is criticism, they will more likely turn elsewhere, to their friends or others who are more encouraging and positive.

Your child’s priorities

What do you usually give feedback for? Those are your priorities. You may provide feedback for school achievement and performance but your children rarely receive feedback about their character and morals. If you consistently ask about their homework but not about their prayers, you are indirectly telling your child what is more important. Which issues are you focusing on?

Asking for and receiving feedback from children

Children need to learn how to give feedback effectively. Many people communicate their displeasure through yelling or the silent treatment, leaving those around them confused and unclear about the problem.

They can begin to acquire this important skill at home. Teaching them to give effective feedback will benefit you as a parent. It will help you see things from your child’s perspective. You may even learn from them or become aware of things that you need to change within yourself.


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