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Criticism as Manipulation

Danica Joan January 17, 2022

Many people have difficulty dealing with criticism because they experience it as personal rejection. As a child, when you made a mistake, your parents and other authority figures may have passed judgment on you: “Jeanne, you shouldn’t have broken your sister’s toy. Bad girl.” You had expressed some aggression; therefore you were bad. Eventually you learned to feel ashamed whenever you were criticized. This is a rather destructive form of manipulation used to teach children to conform. Less damaging ways of instructing children in how to behave involve reinforcing appropriate behavior and ignoring unwanted behavior, pointing out what is wrong with the behavior and suggesting a more desirable alternative behavior, and the modeling of appropriate behavior.