How to Handle Criticism as a Caregiver
Why Am I Being Criticized About My Caregiving Ability?
Being a caregiver is a selfless occupation that requires you to maintain a mindset that puts the well-being of others before your own. Not everyone is cut out to be a caregiver as it requires patience, compassion, and a natural talent in providing care.
Every caregiver has their own unique style and way of providing care, which may be one of the reasons criticism from a family member, stranger, or even the person you're providing care can result. They may have their own concept of the best way of doing something such as helping an Elderly individual walk or the types of meals you prepare.
In general, even though it might be hurtful when someone doesn't like the way you do something, it's critically important that you let go of any stubbornness you have, keep an open mind, and stay optimistic and confident in your abilities.
It's only when criticizing comments are abusive and hurtful that the line has been crossed and you need to be sure to assert yourself and make it clear that the behavior will not be tolerated. Of course, keep your cool when doing so because you don't want to elicit hurtful or abusive comments yourself.
Handling Criticism Constructively
Most of the time, there is always a direct cause to any critical remarks that are made to you. There are situations in which an individual will blatantly tell you that they don't like the way you do something and other situations where in addition to criticism, they provide feedback.
- When someone tells you they don't like the way you are doing something, don't feel angry right away. Getting angry and stressed without trying to solve the problem can come off as very unprofessional and make way for more negative criticism from the criticizer. Be sure to interpret criticism as an offer to help. Ask the person how you can better perform the task and gladly oblige. It's very likely that the family or individual is used to a certain way of receiving care.
- Whether it's from a family member or the individual receiving care, always be sure to ask if there is a certain way of doing things for tasks that you may be unsure of. If you're providing a personal level of care such as dressing, assisting with personal hygiene/grooming, or toileting, communication can be key to minimizing awkward situations or angry care receivers.
- Don't let negative comments influence your self esteem. All criticism should be taken constructively. If you feel that criticism is constant and abusive, be sure to let it be known to the criticizer that you don't appreciate the constant verbal abuse and it needs to stop immediately. There are some cases where the relationship just wasn't meant to be because there is a lack or rapport and compatibility between caregiver and care receiver. It's important to recognize this type of situation and if you provide care for a home care agency, notify the agency immediately about how you've tried, but cannot maintain a professional relationship in the household. The care receiver may have an easier time with someone else. Don't take it personally either!
Keeping Your Emotions Under Control
All this talk about adapting your style of caregiving may not come without a price. It's normal to feel offended, sad, angry, and other negative emotions - especially when the manner in which you've been criticized wasn't kind.
Keeping Your Emotions in Check:
- You're human, so you experience emotions, both positive and negative. When someone criticizes you and you're not feeling too great, do whatever it takes to release the negative energy from inside of you when you have some alone time. Take a walk, scream into a pillow, punch something soft, cry, etc. Don't let your anger or sadness get pent up.
- Many lash-outs and quick remarks that may be hurtful have some deep-seated rooting. Elders may be frustrated because of their loss of independence. Family members may be worried for their loved one's daily well-being. It's important to have empathy even for the person that is criticizing you - a large part of successful caregiving is after all, based on empathy and compassion.
- Ensuring you have a support network is of great importance. Whether it's a friend, parent, or significant other, an objective listener can provide you with some insights into your situation that you haven't considered. There are also resources online for caregivers such as online forums and support groups to exchange stories and advice with people who may be experiencing similar situations.
Last but not least, keep a positive mind, stay confident in your caregiving abilities, and be sure to always provide daily quiet time for yourself to reflect, rejuvenate, and remember the love you have for caregiving and why you chose to work as a caregiver in the first place!