How well does your teen respond to feedback?

Word cloud for Constructive criticismLearning how to accept constructive criticism gracefully, without getting angry or defensive, is a very valuable skill for students to develop.

However, it’s also very challenging to master!

For most students, getting negative feedback feels very upsetting. 

In fact, if they suspect they might be doing badly at something, they’ll often do their best to avoid talking about it with parents and teachers who might criticize them. 

This can quickly turn into a negative cycle: The more they put off the discussion, the scarier it gets to find out how they’re really doing. Meanwhile, if there is a problem, it’s getting progressively worse…making it even more nerve-wracking to address. 

The problem at the root of this cycle is the fear students feel about receiving feedback on their progress. 

But what if we could take away this fear, and help them to see feedback as a valuable clue about how they can improve…rather than upsetting criticism about what they’re doing wrong?

Here are a few ideas to consider trying out at home, to help shift your teen’s perspective on feedback, and make it easier for them to see it in a positive light: 

  1. Be proactive about seeking feedback from them. One way to do this would be to ask them for their feedback about what you can do to improve as a parent…and then model the process you want them to follow when they receive feedback & suggestions. Most students are used to receiving suggestions from parents about areas where they could use improvement, but they don’t often get an opportunity to share their opinion, and will probably be surprised & delighted to be asked!
  2. Make regular feedback & improvement part of your family tradition. Another way to model the process would be to incorporate discussions about what you can do to improve as a family into part of your family tradition. Setting aside a regular discussion time to talk about areas you all can improve upon as a family, could be a way to model the process of accepting feedback gracefully as a team, without making anyone in particular feel like they’re being singled out or criticized. 
  3. Share your thought process. Next time you receive constructive criticism, or are feeling worried about your performance and unsure how you’re doing, consider sharing your thought process with your teen. Tell them what you were thinking when you got the feedback and how you responded. Share how nervous you felt asking for feedback, why you did it anyway, and how it turned out. Sharing your experiences can help them understand that they’re not alone (accepting constructive criticism is hard for everyone, from time to time!), and also help them to feel more comfortable talking with you the next time they’re in a similar situation.

WTeacher helping the student learnhat’s important here isn’t the specific strategies…you may have other ideas in mind that would work even better for you and your teen!

The idea is just to get you thinking about how you might be able to help shift your teen’s attitude about feedback, so they can start to see it from a more open, curious perspective…and start seeking it out, because they want to know how they’re progressing and what they can do to improve. 

Your turn!

How does YOUR teen feel about feedback & constructive criticism?

What are some things YOU are currently doing — or could start doing — at home to encourage them to see feedback in a more positive light?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below…I would love to hear from you!


Schedule my call!

Is coaching a good fit for your teen?

If you'd like to discuss how academic coaching can help your teen improve his or her mindset, motivation, focus, organization, time management skills, and/or study skills, click here to schedule a complimentary consultation with me.
Schedule my call!
By |April 15th, 2015|Categories: Mindset, Motivation|0 Comments

About the Author:

Dr. Maggie Wray is an Atlanta-based academic coach who helps high school & college students achieve their academic potential by improving their organization, time management, study skills, and mindset about school. To set up a time to speak with Maggie about how to help YOUR teen develop the skills he or she needs to thrive academically, visit or email

Leave A Comment