Maintaining The Compliment-Criticism Balance

I grew up in a joint family where love was abundant (even if the money wasn’t) . I always feel wonderful recalling that no matter what, children were never yelled at. That takes some superhuman-ness – but that’s how it was.

Maintaining The Compliment-Criticism Balance - Accepting Criticism

Ours was a matriarchal family, with my Grandmother as the head and what she said was usually never up for argument. Not that anyone wanted to, but she always gave logical and great advice and everyone was happy. She always emphasized on going easy on the criticism. Instead, we were encouraged to encourage others for the same.

In today’s hectic lifestyle where everyone is rushing everywhere, how easy is it to stay cool? How to maintain that compliment-criticism balance? Here are things that have worked for me – and it helped because I grew up in an environment where everyone practiced it.

Look within

It must always begin with us as parents. Making an effort to feel good about ourselves is the basic starting point. When we practice being affectionate and speaking with kindness, we become role models for our children. Children notice what we do more than what we say and a general aura of harmony promotes happiness.

Think before you speak

During that morning rush, or when you are busy with something, it is so easy to yell with frustration. But, take a deep breath. Say what you want to say – in your mind. Reflect on how it sounds. Nobody likes that negativity – so squash the urge to make that negative comment. If you have something nice to say, though, go ahead and say it. Negative words kill self-esteem. Positive words boost it. Oh, I know how tough it is to control oneself. But I am getting there.

Recognise the power of language

This follows from the point above – and is about teaching children the power of language. Just as we must reflect before we utter, the same goes for children…expect they need us to tell them, especially when they talk back. I remember, if I spoke aggressively, my Mom would immediately say, “Oh! When you sound like that I get so scared”. I swear I would immediately feel a little sheepish. And rephrase. Situation diffused. Lesson learned. Unless we are aware, we can’t see.

For every negative, two positives

Discipline  is an essential part of life, like it or not. Each time you have to practice discipline, follow up with some good words. And make sure your child practices this. It is a wonderful habit that pays big dividends. Be generous and praise others whenever the situation demands it.

Release the negativity

Don’t bottle up. Don’t let it build up. It fosters ill will. Instead, make it a habit to vent out. Even if it doesn’t sound nice, letting it all out once and for all helps clear the air and strengthens the relationships. Be ready to forgive and apologise. There is no shame in saying “sorry’. It is not hard. And teach your children to do the same.

The important thing to remember is it all begins with us as parents. Being positive and nurturing good feelings keeps you healthy and stress free

What are your views about this? Would love to hear them.

Vidya Sury is a happy work-at-home Mom who relishes the joy of parenting and growing up with her son. She is a freelance writer, business blogger and social media enthusiast and loves DIY, Coffee, Music, Photography, Family, Friends and Life. She believes that Happiness is a DIY Project. She blogs at and tweets as @vidyasury

  • Hi Vidya,

    This was a lovely article on maintaining the compliment-criticism balance.

    Although I don’t have kids yet, I found your article to be helpful for when I do.

    I loved what you wrote about for every negative, two positives. It reminded me that this principle is also important in adulthood. For instance, at my public speaking group, there is a rule that if a person is giving a speech, the reviewer of that speech should aim to highlight 3 good points they liked about the person’s speech and 1 point, which would be a criticism in order to help the person improve their public speaking. This is to ensure the speaker’s confidence increases rather than goes down.

    Thank you.

    • That is an excellent concept, Hiten. We had the same thing at work – when it came to feedback, the rule was to mention the good stuff. And there always was!

      Thank you, Hiten, for your valuable input.


  • Yes, I agree Vidya. If you do have to say something negative, sandwich it between to compliments.

    Life is great when we use our words wisely.

    • Thank you Debbie. It makes for a very appetizing sandwich!

  • Susmitha – Veganosaueus

    Thank you so much for this article, Vidya. This is so important for adults to follow among themselves too. If everyone made an attempt to notice the positives and point them out twice or thrice as often as they point out negatives, the world would be such a better place.

  • Indeed, Susmitha! Thank you for your comment.