How an Atmosphere of Evaluation Crushes Us
Many of us are aware of the damage that an atmosphere of constant criticism can have on a child. This type of environment destroys self-confidence, increases anxiety and decreases their motivation. It's what we might call a climate of constant negative evaluation. However, a climate of constant positive evaluation also has its problems. Could it be that being evaluated is damaging, even if positive?
A focus on achievements
A climate of constant positive evaluation might look something like this; the child's academic or sporting acheivements are evaluated by the parent. We do this to emphasise the positive; it is made in the spirit of the child's continual improvement. The things that the child does are noticed, measured and reported on; improvements are lauded and even when the child doesn't achieve a good outcome, things are given the best positive interpretation possible.
This type of environment has more appeal to the average parent, but many would question the value – and perhaps even the damage done – by giving false praise.
Fair evaluation- is that better?
So, with this in mind, is an environment of constant neutral (fair) evaluation the ideal? Here we are talking about an environment where everything the child does is evaluated; praise and criticism is fairly delivered according to the child's performance. The parent treads a neutral path but constantly gives feedback.
All evaluation builds a reliance on external validation
All these approaches – negative evaluation, positive evaluation and neutral evaluation – still have the common factor of constant evaluation. The parent is constantly monitoring and assessing the child, even on small things.
This climate of constant evaluation can set up a situation where the child is constantly looking over their shoulder because they are searching for external validation of what he or she does. The child's own internal evaluations of what they do is devalued by the constant ‘correct' evaluations of the parent. This only reinforces the child's constant referral back to the parent about the value or otherwise of what they are doing at the cost of their independence and self-reliance.
Therapy can help you recover the self that is lost through an emphasis on constant evaluation.
Let me know in the comments below.
– Tim Hill
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