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SALT LAKE CITY — “Everybody likes a compliment,” Abraham Lincoln said.
Compliments can help children grow or stunt their progress, depending on how the compliment is given. Complimenting action and effort, rather than giving a broad compliment of the child themselves, can significantly motivate them to be better and feel better.
“Research shows that we all learn our belief systems as little children. It is the very belief system that functions as the foundation of our entire life.” Positive affirmations as a child can greatly benefit lives as adults.
Here are eight compliments your children need to hear from you:
1. “I believe in you.”
Your child needs to know that whether they are succeeding at the moment or not, you have not given up on their ability to succeed. Believing in your child's ability to accomplish their goals will give them the motivation they need to become better.
2. “That choice makes me proud.”
Some choices won’t make you proud, but applauding the good choices will encourage your child to continue making wise decisions in order to gain your praise. Your child wants to know that you haven't forgotten their efforts to make you proud.
3. “I appreciate your ability to ___.”
Really look for the areas your child is excelling in. If they know you believe they are capable of being kind, diligent, honest, or happy they will begin to believe it themselves and act on the compliment they are receiving. For example, if you say, “I appreciate your ability to work hard,” your child will strive to work hard in the future, knowing that effort is acknowledged.
4. “I’m thankful you’re in our family.”
Children have a need to belong. They are trying to fit in at school, with friends or in youth groups. Remind them often they are crucial to your life and that you are grateful for them. When they feel accepted for who they are and who they are becoming they will feel comfortable around you, which allows for open communication and trust.
5. “I can trust you to be honest with me.”
Complimenting your child's character and integrity will help them strive for greatness. Remind your child that if they are honest you can trust them.
6. “You made a good choice.”
Affirming your child’s decision can help their self-confidence. "Overpraising a child can get them hooked on success and celebration instead of being satisfied by their own accomplishment." We want our children to be satisfied and happy, not entitled to constant praise. Teach your child that with good decisions come praise, and bad decisions come consequences.
7. “I know you did your best.”
When your child has given a good effort it is critical to offer praise for the attempt. If they didn’t give their best, an alternative is to say, “You have a great attitude.” Continue to urge them to try better. Encourage positive behavior so when failures come they will be reminded they can always try again to do their best.
8. “I love you.”
While this may not sound like a compliment it is the most important you can give. Your child’s potential is endless if they know they are loved. Your child will trust you more if you always show your love for them. Saying I love you releases endorphins in the brain that bring joy to a child. Saying “I love you” can actually help your children learn and succeed.
A parent's job is to give their children hope, love and confidence, and the right compliments can bring them success and joy. Parents who never stop teaching children and give praise when necessary can provide a strong, positive foundation in their child’s life. *- - - - - -
About the author: Candace is a stay at home mom and crime victim advocate.*