Critical Parents Shut Down Kids’ Emotions


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Do you point out everything your child does wrong? While most parents try to help their kids by critiquing mistakes, new research shows too much criticism may impact your child’s emotional development.

Don’t do that. You didn’t even try. You’re not a good listener! Every parent has used phrases like these at one time or another, but a new study shows overly-critical moms and dads may be causing harm. Researchers from Binghamton University examined 87 children between ages 7 and 11. They measured brain activity while the kids looked at pictures of faces showing different emotions. Results showed the children, whose parent’s initial statement about them was negative or who had a negative relationship with their child, were less responsive to emotional facial expressions.

The scientists say these findings suggest kids with critical parents might be ignoring and avoiding emotions. Highly critical parents also increase a child’s risk for depression and anxiety. So you might want to look for more opportunities to point out what your child is doing right. It could help their emotional health.

Authors of the study originally thought that the children who were exposed to higher levels of parental criticism would pay more attention to angry expressions than their peers. But it turned out they were less successful at identifying any type of emotion.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Julie Marks, Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, News Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.