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The Truth About Giving Advice

All of us want to help, protect, and shield our children from life’s daily disappointments. How can we give constructive advice, to a child, without being remembered as one of their worst critics? Any negative comment we make has a “ripple effect” and can turn into long-term hostility.

Unfortunately, some adults will criticize a child far too often and any “good intentions,” are turned into a variety of bad feelings, within the child’s mind. So, giving advice is a very precise skill.

If your child is sensitive, and most people are, the criticism of today will shape his or her perception of situations for life. Parents and teachers have to use negative reinforcement rarely and carefully.

After all, we cannot reward children for bad behavior. This is a form of “inconsistent reinforcement.” This can “backfire”, and you can eventually have a situation where any reaction you have doesn’t matter.

So where do you start? Firstly, realize that any time you spend with your child is valuable. The younger a child is, the more your words will have an effect. So, you can salvage a relationship at any age, but it is better to start now.

If you must give advice, there is a technique called “sandwiching,” which will keep your relationship intact. If you see where you could be of help, but want to retain a relationship of trust, you should try this method.

Here is an example of how you could use sandwiching to give a suggestion, without having your intentions misinterpreted. Let’s say your daughter finishes her book report; you have time to read it, and it has more than a few typos. You know she could get a better grade with a little improvement. So what do you do?

Compliment her about the fact that she finished her project on time. Then, gently point her toward a word processing program and the many functions that will make written work look much better. Finally, praise her for the content of her report. Notice that the formula: “Praise-advise-praise,” will work every time.

Children love recognition from adults, and with this simple formula, you can gently guide most children toward success.
Due to overzealous criticism, some parents and teachers, who are insensitive, and too frank, often experience rebellion from children. Therefore, giving advice is a diplomatic skill that needs constant improvement. If you take the time to do this, your success rate will be extraordinary.

Paul Jerard, is a co-owner/director of Yoga teacher training at Aura Wellness Center. He has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995. He is a master instructor of martial arts. He teaches Yoga, martial arts, and fitness to children, adults, and seniors. Recently he wrote: Is Running a Yoga Business Right for You? For Yoga students, who may be considering a new career as a Yoga teacher.