Parenting is a tremendous responsibility and a privilege. It can go two ways.
In a social research, Kira Birditt confirmed, as did others, that “the parent-child relationship is one of the longest lasting social ties human beings establish. This tie is often highly positive and supportive but it also commonly includes feelings of irritation, tension and ambivalence.”
Parents play an irreplaceable role in the lives of their children. A teacher, coach, or friend may be inspiring, but a lot of the self-confidence, values, beliefs, views, and behavioral patterns are emulated by children as a copy of their parents’ behavior, and continue into adulthood.
The relationship between a parent and child affects their emotional, mental, and physical well-being. It has been said that even if children are put in a child day care center for most of their childhood, the greatest influence in their lives are still their parents.
Despite the many distractions of commercialism, the internet, common and current trends, and the many issues that are involved in everyday living in the 21st century, children are still born, raised, and nurtured by one or two parents.
They come into this world and need someone to look up to. Having a male and female role model shapes a child’s dreams, perceptions, expectations, and actions in life.
Confidence is an important part of parenting. Parents who believed they were competent parents were more able to instill that same reasoning in their children. They appeared to be more competent because they believed it.
Children who were loved, had significantly better responses, social skills, and were happy more often. It has a tremendous negative impact if children feel neglected or despised in any way.
Divorce also has a negative impact on children’s well-being, but a positive influence is accomplished by encouragement, attention, explanation, a solid set of clear and reasonable rules, and rewards to enhance compliance.
Other factors that play a role in the development of a child are cultural habits, birth order, family size, presence or absence of the parents, and the degree of responsibility they receive.
Children can be a huge benefactor in the home, if they are raised in a way that helps them develop and feel secure.
Why Compliments Matter
There are many ways to boost a child’s self-esteem and be interactive and involved in their lives. Some of those are respecting their choices, personal conversations, listening, eating meals together, playing with them, giving them the chance to help, and bedtime rituals, but one of the major ways to help a child feel good about him- or herself is to speak the right words.
As children grow up, they test boundaries. They don’t always do that because they want as much as they can get out of life, or because they have selfish intensions, but they are simply as innocent as can be, and they are finding out how things work.
So it makes sense that they just want to know where the boundaries are. Since they are often so gullible and believing (don’t those two words seem contradictory?), they often believe reality according to the way you present it to them. You, the parent or caretaker, are teaching them life.
All the little positive affirmations in daily life influence the child’s well-being and success. “Positive reinforcement” is a term that they use in child psychology.
Sometimes something can be said in two different ways, a positive or a negative way. It means you increase the likelihood of the good behavior being repeated.
Positive reinforcement can be with words, gifts, more playtime, or something else. In order to do that, you could give immediate praise or rewards that add up to something more, such as a treat, ice cream or a toy that the child desires.
One way to do that, is by keeping track of good behavior through stickers, tokens, points, a chart, etc. This will allow them to “save up” good actions for something tangible in return.
Children develop expectations over time, just like any other human being. What they get, is what they expect.
Does that mean you shouldn’t give them anything because then they won’t be disappointed? Well, no… it is more complex than that.
They always expect you to take care of their basic needs, because who else is going to do it? There are things they will hope you will take care of because you are their primary role model, provider and caretaker.
Expectations of what parents do for them may be one aspect of the relationship of a child and parent, but what about the expectations that a parent for his or her children has? Studies have shown that one of the most important values of any person, whether children or adults, is living up to the expectations of their parents.
A child (and often an adult too) will do almost anything to make his or her parents proud. The ultimate acceptance or rejection in life and in human psychology is that of someone’s parents.
People have shown to be more satisfied about life and themselves when they have the feeling that their parents approve of their personality or behavior, and that they love them for who they are.
List of 49 Compliments for Your Children
So here is the list that describes the title of this post: the 49 compliments you can give your child. I saved the best for last. Now that you realize or are reminded of the positive influence you can have on your child(ren), here are tips of what to say to them to encourage them and make the best of it.
Whenever you give a compliment, make sure you:
1) Are sincere… don’t fake it, but mean it, or your child will start noticing your dishonesty;
2) Time it right to avoid that awkward response of, “Okay? Where did that come from?”
3) Be specific… you don’t have to explain too much or compare them to others, but if you’re not specific, then you might as well say, “Good job” every time. Then the child won’t even know the reason for the compliment.
Okay, ready? Here we go.
- 1 - I love you.
Of course, this is the first and one of the most important ones. Keep saying that “L” word and express it in other ways. Don’t just say it when they take off to school, because then it will start sounding like a mere “Goodbye.”
Don’t say it when you’re arguing or when they are mad at you, because then it may sound manipulative. Say it at the moments that matter most, and that you feel it most.
- 2 - Thank you for helping.
Being grateful is another way of complimenting. You are praising their behavior and telling them they are appreciated for what they do. Another way to say this is “You are very helpful.” If you keep telling them that, they will help you more often.
It’s just basic human psychology. Too often parents forget it and take it for granted, and they only emphasize the times that the kids forget or are too lazy to help. If you mention the negative, you might as well point out the positive.
- 3 - You are smart.
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. My parents always told me I was smart, so I started believing it. That doesn’t mean everything in school was easy, but with that determination, I did the highest level in high school and finished university in 3 years what would take others 4 to do it.
The kids need to hear it. It’s always somewhat true, even if their IQ is low, because “smart” is a relative term. I mean, smart compared to whom? Yes, they are smart, and even if they might not be big readers or science nerds, they can be practically smart or come up with clever ideas or solutions.
- 4 - Good job for sharing.
Just like saying “That’s very sweet of you” this is a more specific way of saying they are behaving well by sharing their toys, candy, or anything else they get their hands on.
- 5 - You can do it.
This is expressing belief. It opens up options. If they cannot do it, then why try?
So telling them they CAN do it, will boost their confidence, especially if it comes from you. I’ve developed many skills because my parents told me they believed in my ability to accomplish this or that.
- 6 - You are funny.
Another great one, especially if they are trying to be funny. Feeling like they have a sense of humor and make witty remarks, can be a great boost of their self-confidence.
- 7 - I believe in you.
It’s a little similar to “You can do it,” but it still has a different tone with a different emphasis. Instead of saying that THEY can do it, you emphasize the word “I,” which makes them realize that YOU, in particular, believe they can do it. It shifts the focus to your confidence in their abilities.
- 8 - I am proud of you.
Like mentioned in the previous chapters, a parent’s approval is one of a child’s greatest goals and achievements. This is one of the best compliments you can give.
Perhaps I should have put this one at number 2 after “I love you,” but oh well, here it is.
- 9 - I trust you.
A child wants to be trusted. The more they feel you’re suspicious of them, the sneakier they get. So express your belief in their honesty and wisdom to do the right thing.
- 10 - You are special.
Uniqueness is something everybody wants. People want attention. They want to be recognized; they want a confirmation each time that they exist and that they add value. It starts in the early years. If you give this compliment, be more specific.
Tell them what is so special about them, or they could take it the wrong way.
For instance, you could combine this compliment with the “You are smart” one. “You are special, because you are exceptionally smart.” Who wouldn’t want to hear that?
- 11 - You are beautiful/handsome.
Nobody wants to be ugly. People want to be attractive, and it starts when they are young. A lot of girls want to look like a pretty princess in a dress, and boys want to be looked up to or esteemed to be good-looking.
- 12 - You are fun.
This is different from being funny. BEING fun means you can HAVE fun and do things to pass time in a pleasant way.
In this way, you encourage them to accept themselves and their playful behavior. They might get more friends because of their new found confidence.
- 13 - You are fast/quick.
It means they are efficient and think smart, work hard, etc. If you tell them they are fast, you won’t have to wait for them as long the next time, because they will want to receive that compliment again and hurry up a bit.
- 14 - You are talented.
You can apply this compliment to whatever it is they are trying to get better at. It encourages them to keep going. And since they have to practice to get better at it anyway, this also is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- 15 - Very creative.
Hopefully, your child will realize at that age that the word “creative” means exceptional and out-of-the-box. It is something they came up with and had to use their combination of skills for.
- 16 - That’s very sweet of you.
Kids want to please people. Call it their selfless nature to just make people happier because they love them, or their selfish nature to get approval in return.
Maybe it’s a bit of both, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is they want to be seen as a pleasant person, someone who is kind and self-sacrificing.
- 17 - Do that again.
It shows that you liked what they did, so you want to see it again. I can guarantee you that they’ll repeat it most times, just to please you and receive another compliment.
- 18 - That’s a great idea!
Some children even want to become inventors because they are just full of ideas. It’s another way to make them feel like they have capabilities, like coming up with ideas nobody ever thought of. It makes them unique and valuable.
- 19 - That was even better.
This means that they made progress since what they did or made last time. Progress is a basic human need, especially in children.
- 20 - I am glad you’re happy.
This means you care about how they feel. It’s another expression of love and concern that makes them feel safe.
- 21 - You are good at that.
Another way of saying that they are talented. It will help more if they don’t know the word “talented.” If they believe they are good at it, they will associate a positive feeling with that activity in their minds and do it more often.
- 22 - That was impressive.
If you let a child know you’re amazed by his or her accomplishments, you give them a sense of attention which not even a crowd in an arena can give them.
If they extend their boundaries, you SHOULD be impressed, right? Because they just made progress and exceeded your expectations.
- 23 - You just made my day better.
Children will easily sense that you’re no Superman or -woman at controlling emotions. You have your bad days and have some need for encouragement or enlightenment.
Don’t rely on the child for psychological support, because for the most part; YOU need to be the strong one. But occasionally, a child will be uplifted by the fact that they helped your day be more positive.
- 24 - You are strong.
Especially boys but girls too I think, will want to be strong. Why?
They already know they can’t compete with the strength and agility of the many adults in a “big people’s world” and they do a lot to become like you. So this is just a way to tell them they don’t have to feel inferior to their dad or older brother.
- 25 - I like playing with you.
It sounds a little childish, but hey, it’s a child. If you tell them they are good at playing or are fun to play with, it will encourage them to do it again.
Since playing is their main activity when they are awake anyway, you could specify this in many ways. “I like playing cards with you” or “I like playing video games with you” or “It’s fun to play soccer with you.”
- 26 - You have a pretty smile.
Obviously, saying this will make them smile more. If they smile more, they will often automatically feel happier. It’s a scientific fact. So don’t hold back on this one.
- 27 - I knew you could do it.
It’s a little like, “You can do it,” but it makes it extra positive. Here you express your confirmed confidence in something they already did. You are telling them you never doubted them in the first place.
- 28 - I am glad I am your mom/dad.
This is another way of saying that you love them unconditionally and approve of the way they are. It means you don’t want to replace them with any other child.
- 29 - I will always be there for you.
We talked about attachment. This is an affirmation that you won’t leave and that they can always come to you with their problems.
If they don’t feel that safety with you, they’ll go elsewhere for questions about life. You don’t want that.
- 30 - You are so cool.
It’s the 21st century, so everybody wants to be cool or awesome or some other fancy slang word. Put sunglasses on them, and watch them act like in the movies. It emphasizes popularity and positive attention.
- 31 - Nice drawings.
Explain what you like about it. Don’t leave it at that, especially as they get older and their scratchy messed-up drawings turn into actual figures and contemplated images.
Tell them you like the size of the sun, the shape of the house or the color of that girl’s dress.
- 32 - Wow, did you do that all by yourself?
Children want to believe in their ability to do things. They are slowly learning to become more independent and don’t want to be seen as a helpless infant anymore.
So keep telling them you are impressed by those things you don’t have to help them with. This will even save you time and effort.
- 33 - You are important.
Everybody wants to hear they matter, that they make a difference and that they exist. Telling them they are significant in a world with about 7 billion people will be a much-needed voice in the back of their heads if they ever feel lonely or incapable.
Besides, if they are important to YOU, it’s just another way of saying that you care about their happiness.
- 34 - You are a fast learner.
It sounds a little like being intelligent, but it’s somewhat different. Intelligence is considered to be something you are born with, but learning fast will encourage them to learn more.
After all, they will think it’s easy because they are so good at it, won’t they? If they believe that, it’s less of an obstacle for them to discover new skills and knowledge.
- 35 - You look great in pictures.
Telling them they are photo genetic is another compliment about their looks. They will want to pose for the camera more often if you tell them this.
- 36 - You are great with your friends.
Telling them they get along with others encourages their social skills. Pretty simple.
- 37 - I appreciate you being honest.
If you tell them this, they will confess to you more easily if they made a mistake. You really need that mutual trust, especially when they become teenagers.
- 38 - That sounds/looks great, you’ve been practicing.
If they play a musical instrument, draw, paint, or practice sports, make sure you recognize the countless hours they put into developing their skills. It’s a reward for an effort, and it encourages more effort.
- 39 - You have a promising future ahead of you.
This is another way of saying the previously mentioned compliment, but a bit more specific and long-term focused. You help them envision the future and express your trust that everything will be all right.
- 40 - You’ll be a great... [profession].
If they have a dream to be an artist, police officer, firefighter, or doctor, you can be specific and tell them they will be good at that because... [think of specific skills they already developed].
It’s their dream, so expressing your belief in what they want most when they grow up, can boost their self-esteem.
- 41 - That looks a lot like a... [dog, cat, bird].
Sometimes children mimic animals and do everything to get attention and have some fun with it. Let them know you see what kind of animal they are trying to be immediately.
Last week there were a bunch of chickens (not real ones but kids pretending to be) in the house of my in-laws, and it was pretty hilarious.
- 42 - Wow, where did you learn that?
It’s not so much about the answer, but about the fact that you’re amazed at what they secretly learned behind your back.
It shows you are involved in their lives, because you’re interested in where they have been and what they did to become better at something.
- 43 - You are nice to your brother/sister.
Another way of saying they are considerate, sweet or kind, but more specifically to their own siblings.
Since a lot of the confrontations and arguments will be with their siblings, this will enlighten the mood and encourage them to be more easy-going.
- 44 - We are a great team.
With this, you tell them you like working together. It will encourage them to cooperate more often and help out if you start cleaning up or doing something else.
I told this to some kids and now they always want to do dishes with me, because they like being on my team.
- 45 - I really appreciate what you did.
It’s almost the same as being grateful, so in a way you just thank them for what they did and secretly encourage them to do it more often.
- 46 - You have a great imagination.
Many adults lost their imagination, so stimulating a child’s ideas and creativity this way is a great way to help them keep it up.
- 47 - I like that you never give up.
If you tell them you like that quality, they will try harder and have more chance of succeeding. Even the most successful people had moments when they were down, but they got up and tried again.
- 48 - That looks good on you.
Perhaps this is especially important to girls, since the majority of them cares more about clothes than guys do. They want to feel like some kind of princess.
But you can tell boys something looks good on them too. If they don’t agree, then don’t fight too hard. Then you probably just have a kid with a strong will.
- 49 - Tell me more about that.
This is not so much of a compliment as it is showing interest. As opposed to the uncaring “that’s nice” and no further questions asked, that so many adults tell their kids when they talk their ears off, this encourages them to open up and trust you with their information or passion.