Learning and Growing From Feedback And Criticism

(There are so many times that as we teach our children, we too, learn lessons about life and reminders on how we can grow. This incident was one of them.)

A few weeks ago, husBenKoh and I went for a parent-teacher conference at Phoebie’s school and met with her teachers to find out how she is doing in school. Through the feedback, we learnt about how our daughter is doing, both academically and socially.

Both the teachers we met were careful not to mention certain things in front of Phoebie, and asked Phoebie to be excused while they spoke to husBenKoh and I.

Phoebie came back to the table while one of her teachers was talking about things she thought Phoebie could improve on, so Phoebie heard some of it.

As she heard what her teacher said, Phoebie’s face started to change. It was clear that she didn’t like what she heard. I could see that she might even start to cry at any moment.

In front of the teacher, I told Phoebie, “Look Phoebie, the teacher is not saying that you are bad or that you are no good. What she is telling us are things that she feels you can work on, so that you grow and become even better.”

Phoebie was quiet, and the teacher was quick to add on to what I had just said and assured Phoebie that she was okay.

No one likes to hear bad things about themselves, or things that they are not so good at. I know this is especially true for my sensitive daughter.

She would cry at art class if her teacher told her that something she did wasn’t the right way. She would cry at swimming class because she feels like she can’t swim a certain stroke well. She got upset with herself when she saw her dance exam results last year because she had expected a higher score.

As we rounded things up at the parent-teacher conference, I had a chat with Phoebie.

“Phoebie, do you know why your teachers talk to Papa and I about how you are doing in school? It is because they care about how you do and how you grow,” I said.

“While there are things that you are good at, and things you do well, which the teachers did tell us about, there is always space for growth and improvement. No one is perfect, and we are always learning.”

“Just because your teachers shared about some things you can get better with, doesn’t mean you are no good at all. No one has ever said you are no good at all.”

Phoebie blinked as she looked at me.

“Even for me, there are things I am learning every day. I am not perfect as your mummy, and sometimes I learn to grow from my mistakes and try to do better. Don’t take what your teachers said negatively. Instead, take those things as reminders on how you can improve and grow, and grow.”

No one is perfect, not us nor our children. Feedback, whether nicely put or not, can help us and our children to grow.

I can only pray that my children will learn to handle feedback/criticism in a light that helps them to grow, and not be put down.