The Destructive Force of Criticism

The way you measure a society’s soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

Issue No. 114 – 19 December 2011

Welcome to the final Kidz Newz for 2011. Kidz Newz resumes at the end of January. Meantime you can stay up-to-date on my Kidz-Fiz-Biz Facebook Page. As we end the year I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best for the festive season and for the coming year, and to thank you for your support throughout 2011. I hope Santa brings you all you hoped for and more, and that you have a well-earned rest over the break.

Christmas Gift to You

As a Christmas Gift to you, just my Kidz Newz subscribers, I am giving you a FREE download of my e-book, ‘Triumphs and Tribulations’. Hopefully it will inspire you over the break to embark on that project you’ve always been meaning to do but couldn’t quite get around to or didn’t have enough self-belief to carry out. Email and ask for the download. It will be unavailable as of 24/12/11 and revert to $22.00 from the website.

The Destructive Force of Criticism

I came across this insightful quote below while reading Sylvia Marina’s newsletter of 3/12/11 ( and it got me thinking about how true it is, especially with regard to young children. At this time of year when everyone’s exhausted as we gear up to end of term and end of year, tempers can easily get frayed and we can say things we later regret. To a child hearing a destructive comment, however, it can be devastating. Here is the quote:

“If I were given the power to cure just one ill that haunts mankind,” writes Todd Puntolillo, “I would pass up cancer, AIDS, and overlook heart disease because curing the malady I have in mind might just cure most of the others as a side effect. The cure I would seek would be the cure of criticism. No disease shrivels up children, destroys the family unit, ruins the business place, incapacitates government, nor produces stress like criticism.

The terrible three (criticism, judgment, and complaint) do more to dishearten the spirit and, in general, create misery, pain and sorrow than anything else I have ever encountered,” says Todd.

While constructive criticism can improve performance as that’s what it’s intended to do, destructive criticism can have long-lasting effect. To adults with lots of other points of reference it can still be enough to derail a person, but to a child with few if any other points of reference, it can have serious and long-lasting consequences undermining self-esteem.

It is a sad indictment that we live in a world where these three – criticism, judgment and complaint – are so commonplace. We do have a choice to be pleasant or miserable. I recommend pleasant. It’s an infinitely more enjoyable state and others prefer that in you too as it rubs off on them. In this state it’s very difficult to criticise, judge or complain. Instead, things that might once have annoyed us become insignificant. Christmas time should be a time of peace and joy and goodwill to all but often we are confronted with people and situations we find uncomfortable, and that can bring out the worst in us and create a great deal of stress. If, on the other hand, we have consciously decided to adopt an attitude of pleasantness, it’s much easier to accept that when others are being downright obnoxious that it says a lot more about them than about us so we don’t need to engage in any way.

I remember reading a famous quote by the actor Cary Grant, who always played the role of the handsome, suave, debonair man, the sort of man most women would swoon over, not so much for his looks, but for his charming and pleasant manner. He was kindness personified. The actor said, “I spent so much time playing Cary Grant that I became him.” We too can choose. And the choice does not have to be criticism, judgment and complaint. It can be support, encouragement and praise. Imagine if all the children in the world received the latter every day instead of the former? We can but hope. I know I’m preaching to the converted here, but it’s as well to be reminded, sometimes. We have all come across adults who are ‘damaged goods’ as a result of their treatment during childhood. Let’s be mindful of ensuring we are part of the ‘support, encourage’ praise’ brigade.

I have read Shelley Taylor-Smith’s book and attended many of her seminars. As a child she had polio which left the usual legacy of paralysis in her back and legs. She struggled to walk and even swimming was painful because of the tumble-turns. Nevertheless, she told her father she wanted to win an Olympic gold medal one day. How could this ever be possible? What would you say to a child in your care in this situation? Heartbreaking stuff, but Shelley’s father told her that’s exactly what she’d do because she was a champion and she could do anything. She proved him right. What amazing belief the father had in his child and kept instilling that belief in her. Imagine if every child had such unconditional, loving support? In case you’ve forgotten, she’s the world champion marathon swimmer. Her 6 world records have never been broken.

Have a wonderful Christmas break and may everyone you meet greet you with support, encouragement and praise.

The lovely images on this page, including this cute sleeping child, have come from Sherryn McBride’s newsletter Marketing Talk – and reproduced with her permission.

Scarf Magic Book, DVD and Scarf Set

YAY! Finally, the first shipment is here! This is a very long-overdue baby and it has been very difficult, protracted and painful labour. But the baby is beautiful and I’m so proud of it! To order, click here. Although written primarily for parents and carers, I feel teachers and therapists will also benefit from the information. The children are very cute and funny too.

This pack includes:

* Scarf Magic Book
* 2 x scarves

Place your order today!

Quotes of the Week

“The beginning is the most important part of any work, especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression is more readily taken.” ~ Plato

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” ~ Louis L’Armour


In the interest of multiculturalism, do enjoy this Christmas carol.

Click here to watch (only 1 minute long)

Perth – Glass Art Workshops for Children

If you are in the Perth (WA) area, you may be interested in these classes as year-end activities for your children aged 6-12 or if you have your own children that age and are looking for a school holiday activity or birthday party activity. Check out or phone Gina on 0412 724 127 or email at

Feedback (Scarf Magic)

“All excellent especially how to connect movement with music. I will definitely tell people about this presentation. Fantastic ideas for the classroom, particularly in relation to early childhood. I am secondary trained and am teaching in Morawa years 1-12.”
~ Dorothy Helfgott, Morawa District High School (attended ASME Summer School workshop, Perth)

About The Author

Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA

Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.

PO Box 6894, East Perth WA 6892, Australia
T: +61 8 9325 1204 M: +61 (0) 410 64 2781 E:

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Until next time … continue being a legend in your classroom.

Marlene Rattigan, Editor
Kidz Newz

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