What Does Negative Criticism Do to a Teen?

Ignoring certain behaviors can be an effective tool for parents to discipline teens. Gary John Norman / Getty Images

When a teen is consistently bombarded by negative criticism by his parent he will begin to internalize the words and believe them, whether they are true or not. This will affect a teen in these five ways:

  1. He will have a negative view of himself.
  2. He will have poor self-respect and respect for others.
  3. He will feel insecure about his abilities.
  4. He will feel powerless – unable to help himself and others.
  5. He will have a lower his sense of self-worth.

    These feelings of self-doubt and insecurity will cause a teen to do these things:

    • He will withdrawal, be less likely to communicate with the parent.
    • He will use lying and not listen as a defense against the negative criticism.
    • He will become argumentative.
    • He will manipulate others and events so that he does not have to take the blame.

    Reading that list, you can see why avoiding negative criticism is important if parents want to effectively communicate with their teen.

    Disapproving Remarks Vs Criticism in Discipline

    It is worth noting that disapproval is not negative criticism. Parents can check to see if their disapproving remarks are constructive and responsible by asking themselves these questions:

    • Did I disapprove of my teen’s "self," or just the action my teen took?
      Teens need to know that you love them unconditionally, even when their actions make you upset. If you use disapproving remarks against the actions, then you are not using negative criticism.
    • Did I give constructive feedback, explaining why the action was wrong and what could be done the next time?
      When you explain why you are correcting your teen, using examples of the action, you are not using negative criticism.
    • Did I ask my teen what he or she could do differently the next time?
      When you problem solve with your teen, you are not using negative criticism. You are looking for the answer together so that next time your teen can do so independently.
    • Did I use hurtful words?
      Hurtful words and insults have no place in the discipline.

    See how this advice can help you improve your communication skills in this parenting class: Learn to Communicate Effectively with Your Teen in 5 Days.

    Source: The Disease Called Criticism, Laurence C. Smith, Jr., Ph.D.

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