Kick the year off with good intentions and resolutions in place – 24 January 2019 is National Compliment Day. Let’s start by giving the little ones that take up the most space in our hearts a compliment.
As an adult, receiving a compliment feels great. Imagine if your superhero (aka dad) or love of your life (mom, of course) gives you a compliment? Kids blossom when they feel loved and appreciated by their parents and caregivers. They will have improved self-esteem and more confidence when facing the challenges of life. As Mother Theresa once said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family”. Living in a world of social media, pressure to perform and suicide numbers that are on the rise in younger children – we should be handing out compliments to our kids like Flings at a kid’s birthday party!
How to give a compliment?
Start with inner qualities, such as honesty, their kind heart and determination, so that they strive to contribute to society in a meaningful way. Make sure it is positive and that you believe in what you say, they will know when it is not genuine. Be specific and consider your child’s talents and strengths – what do you admire about your children? Often children receive compliment about what they are wearing or their appearance but they need to learn that they are worth so much than a cute bow or trendy outfit. Yes, they are definitely all beautiful – but they are so much more! Specific praise teaches them that their skills and abilities are important and will encourage them to do it more often. It will also prevent them from becoming “overpraised” and expect praise for everything – so the praise does not become common and lose its sparkle. Instead of just saying “Well done”, add a “on that colourful parrot you are drawing” or “for sharing with your baby brother, he is lucky to have you as a big brother”. As said in the movie, The Help – “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.”
For some parents and caregivers words don’t come that easily – words of affirmation aren’t everybody’s strong point, and that is okay. Keep it sincere, look them in the eye, use their name and start with a simple phrase like:
Thank you for…
I think you are…
I am proud of you for…
You are good at…
I like how you…
You worked very hard at…
You were a good friend when…
Good job showing…
It was nice of you to…
Here are 10 guidelines to complimenting your little ones:
- Start with their character
Offer a sincere compliment when they show traits of honesty, reliability, perseverance and kindness.
- Compliment them for being part of the family
They will feel loved and that they belong – confidence boost!
- Compliment them when they contribute to the family
When they feel appreciated and that their contribution does make a difference, they might just be more eager to help.
- Respect and obedience
It is so easy to just discipline – how many times have you said “No” today… (toddlers aren’t exactly a walk in the park, I know). Try to notice when they are doing the right thing and paying respect to the elderly or treating siblings with respect.
- Pay them a compliment them when they have tried their best, but the end result isn’t the best
“I am so proud of you for trying to build this complicated puzzle, let me help you finish the last few pieces”.
- When they do get it absolutely spot-on
When your child gets a good report card or tidy his/her room make sure to mention it and make a big deal of it.
- When they express themselves through their unique style, make sure you compliment them even if you would have chosen a different outfit, way of setting the table or doing arts and crafts for example.
“You really have a flair with these stamps and paint”.
- Compliment them while reaching the long-term goal
“You are working really hard on this birthday card for your teacher, she will love it”.
- Give them a compliment when they achieve something new
This could be just the motivation they need to persist.
- Compliment their friends
Make sure it is a sincere compliment
Giving your kids compliments from a young age will also help them give and receive compliments in the future, as this is not something that comes easily to most children. The ability to understand whether something might be a compliment or might be an insult to someone can really help children to make friends and keep them
We have added some compliment cards for you to print, cut out and hand out freely – add them to your child’s lunchbox or sports bag. For the little ones that can’t read yet, there is a list attached of 25 compliments that you can repeatedly build them up with.
Download the compliment cards here.