Constructive criticism is fine for kids

How good you are

Criticism is a good way to spur growth and improvement. However, extra care has to be taken when criticism is passed on young children to ensure that we are not suppressing their talents unwittingly because of a wrongful assessment.

Below are some examples to illustrate how some of these so-called “negative qualities” could turn out just fine for your child.

1. College drop-outs

Your son/daughter may not be very interested in the school curriculum and is always focusing on other passions. Perhaps, the Singapore system is not for him.

The Singapore education system focuses a lot on Maths and Science, and rote learning so those without the flair may not benefit from it. This doesn’t mean that he’s “stupid.”

To be fair, Singapore’s comprehensive education system has groomed many talented people. According to IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2011, Singapore was ranked among top 3 in the world for its educational system. I, too, benefited from Singapore’s education system and am able to have a career in writing in Greater China because of its bilingual education.

Still, it’s hard for one system to fit all. Do you know that Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard because they wanted to focus on the projects they were working on?

Of course, I am not suggesting that your child quit primary school this instance. Primary school is important for foundation, but don’t be too worried if your child expresses talent in non-examinable subjects, e.g. in music or dance.

Just to note, Gates is the world’s richest person now and Zuckerberg was a billionaire at 23.

2. Naughty

Kids are kids. Some are more playful and rowdy in class. As parents, the job is to make sure they don’t interrupt the learning process of other students.

If they don’t and are just more on the “wild side, ” I think it’s OK!

Apple’s Steve Jobs loved to play pranks on others- once, he switched all the locks on the bicycles of his classmates! His primary school teacher even needed to bribe him to make him do his homework. The co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak was a prankster too and would often work with Jobs to make fun of others.

Again, I am not condoning these actions, but just saying, your child may grow out of it. And his playfulness could be a source of his creativity, like how it was for the man behind the iPhone and iPads.

3. Slow, unsociable

There are introverts and extroverts, even among adults. There is no need for a student to adhere to social norms “just to fit in.”

The Singapore’s education system is very competitive- if our child is slower than the rest, be patient with him.

It’s really not up to him if he’s slow, right? As long as he has tried, we should give him a pat on the back and help him understand concepts faster through mind mapping and other means.

Nobel Prize winner Albert Einstein, who is best known for the mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc², was described by his teachers as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in his foolish dreams” Thomas Edison’s father thought he was stupid, his teacher called him addled and he went on to invent light bulbs.

4 .Talkative

Again, if the student is not disrupting other children, this should be a non-issue.

In Singapore, where many Singaporeans are reserved and afraid to speak up, this is a rare quality that one wants to have.

Do you know at Singapore’s top university NUS, to encourage students to be more vocal in class, it has to implement a 10-mark system to encourage students to speak up in class!

And who knows, your child may be the next Oprah Winfrey! Winfrey’s grandmother once said that ever since Winfrey could talk, she was on stage. As a child, she played games interviewing her doll and crows on the fence of her family’s property. Now she is the most influential woman in the world, according to some assessments and North America’s only black billionaire.

So who knows, with your nurturing, your “naughty” son/daughter may just be the next Steve Jobs.

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