Our Inner critic – even if you’d never have heard the term before, most adults know exactly what it means. We all have inner talk in our head – some may call it our thoughts, I like to think of it like a voice. I also like to think that there is another option, that you don’t have to listen to or focus on this inner critic. The problem with some of us, is that we listen to the critic instead of focusing on all the positive things. It was explained to me before like velcro; we allow the negative comments to stick and we don’t pay as much attention to the compliments or positive feedback. I also read this in a great little book that I shared on facebook called ‘Owning it – Your Bullsh*t free guide to anxiety’ (by Caroline Foran): If you shared a post on social media and you had 99 positive comments and likes, but you had one person saying something nasty you would focus in on the one person who said something nasty… This is the problem with social media and allowing our children to use it. Our inner critic is being fed and nourished by nastiness or negative comments.
Top 10 Tips to help your kids with their critic
- OWN OPINION: Build up your child’s own opinion of themselves. I tell children that their own opinion of themselves is the most important opinion in the world. It is far more important than anyone else’s opinion. So try to make sure its a good one. So check in with them… what do they think of themselves.
- LIST: Make a list with them, of all the good things that they can do, the good qualities and traits that they have. Allow them to take the lead and list things, with a few hints from you if need be.
- GOOD PERSON: Ask them are they a good person? Do they try their best to be a good friend? Do they go out of their way to hurt people? OR Do they help others who need it? Try to get them to realize that overall they are good person and they can keep trying their best.
- SOCIAL MEDIA: Keep them as safe as possible from social media and likes/comments/ competition over number of friends they have. Yes this is harder with teens as we have less control but you can still be involved. You are the parent and rules can be changed if it helps them in the long run.
- ONE PART: Allow them to realize that the inner critic is only one part of them.. We are made up from lots of different parts. We can choose to focus on the others parts of us – for example the brave part of us or the kind part of us, we can ‘talk back’ to our inner critic using other parts. I often use the worry devil and the angel on our shoulder to describe what its like to listen to the different parts.
- AFFIRMATION: Try to get them to choose something positive to themselves everyday, such as ‘I love me’ or ‘I can do it’ or ‘I am a good person’.
- VOLUME: If the inner critic is very loud at times, they can lower down the volume with their imaginary remote control. Or for some children I’ve coached the child comes up with something to say back to their inner critic – such as ‘It’s okay I’ll keep trying’ or ‘Everyone makes mistakes, no-one is perfect’ or ‘I’m still learning’.
- YOUR VOICE: Try your best not to be critical of them yourself – this may sound obvious, but if a child is hard on themselves already then the language you use to correct them or tell them off, is going to be critical. It is said that your inner-critic comes from your parents criticisms in childhood, but it may also be from other influences like teachers, grandparents, coaches – it’s also how the child has interpreted things. A good coaching question would be ‘how would you like to react to this next time?’ or ‘If this happens again, what would you do differently?’
- GUIDED MEDITATIONS: These are so valuable for a child or teen (or adult) who over thinks. Getting them to ‘get out of their heads’, relax their body and mind through deep breathing and positive words can help them to drift off to sleep, and allow teaches them to regulate themselves when they need it. You tube is full of guided meditations for all different purposes… just type ‘guided meditation -children’. Here is a lovely one for happiness and gratitude.
- GREAT VIDEO: Teach your child or teen not to accept the inner critic as truth, sometimes that voice is trying to protect you, but it is going too far. Improving our self image is so important to changing our inner critic. Here is a great video which can help explain where it comes from and how to help ourselves. This video is for older teens and adults but definitely worth a look.
Best of luck to all of you out their battling your own inner critic or trying to help your child or teen. If you would like to get in touch for one to one coaching please do.
All the best from my family to yours.