How do you handle a 10-year-old making critical remarks?
Your website is great and very helpful.
My question is about my niece, who is 10 years old. She has had a sudden change in her personality in school, Sunday school, and at home. She has become critical of everybody and is commenting on everything, so as to make people around her laugh. Of late she is making fun irrespective of the person's age and is distracting everybody in Sunday school. I believe she is has made friendships that are not right (worldly people) and is trying to be like them. I don't know what to do without hurting her publicly, especially in Sunday school since I'm the Sunday school teacher.
My suspicion is that your niece has always had a critical streak, but everyone found it cute in a small child. She got laughs from it, so she believes people like it and it makes her popular. But now that she has reached the preteen years, her remarks are more cutting and she doesn't show any restraint.
On your end, you want to correct her without making her feel bad, which is not possible. Paul had to scold the Corinthians when they were misbehaving. "Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing" (II Corinthians 7:9). Real change doesn't take place until a person realizes that their current behavior is wrong and regrets it.
When she makes a cutting remark, tell her that unsolicited opinions are not appreciated. Point out that she is injuring another person's feelings solely to get a cheap laugh. If you are quick on your feet, I've sometimes taken a teenager's clever remark and turn it back on the teenager. That may involve a few exchanges before it dawns on the teenager that what he gives out to others doesn't feel so good when applied to himself. "Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes" (Proverbs 26:5). If all else fails, take her to one of her parents, right in the middle of class and tell the parent that she is disrupting class, and then tell your niece you look forward to seeing her next week in class.
Thank you, sir, for your prompt reply. I'll definitely do what you have told me and I'll let you know the response.