As parents, we always want to know what we can do to show love for our children. Giving them compliments seems like a safe option, but sometimes we might miss paying the compliments that will mean the most to them. Here are the top 10 compliments your kids need to hear from you.
1. I noticed you're really practicing consistently at...
The best compliments focus on a child's effort rather than a skill or quality. Education World suggests using this type of compliment most of the time: Focus on hard work instead of using a static compliment that makes him feel pressured to perform equally as well another time.
For instance, instead of saying, "You're really good at playing the piano," say something about how you noticed he practices every day. Education World found that when children are praised for their effort, they're more likely to house harder tasks in the future. On the other hand, when they are praised solely for their skill, "they not only put less effort into the task the next time ... they actually avoid more challenging tasks that employ that skill in the future."
2. I'm sorry things didn't go so well today, but I appreciate how hard you tried
It's easy to compliment a child when she does something well. But what do you do when she faces one of life's inevitable failures? Failing to respond appropriately at times when kids feel sad or worthless may lead them to believe you only love them when they succeed.
As with the previous compliment, tell her you noticed how hard she worked at whatever she did and you appreciated that she gave it her all. When a child realizes the value of hard work, she's more likely to try harder next time, regardless of whether she succeeds or not.
3. I learn so much from you
Kids learn new things every day, but have you ever thought about how much you learn from your kids — or the mistakes you make in parenting your kids? Children sometimes see straight to the heart of a matter. They aren't afraid of being honest, and they have the precious ability to see beauty and wonder in the most simple of things. Let your kids know you learn from them just as much as they learn from you. It will help them realize they have something to contribute to the family, too.
4. Yes, I've got lots to do, but I'm not too busy for you
This might not necessarily be something you say out loud. After all, kids are often too involved in their own worlds to realize what their parents do all day. But when your child asks for your help or for you to play with him, you tell him how important he is to you by dropping what you're doing and attending to him immediately.
It's not always possible, especially if dinner is sizzling on the stove or another child needs your attention, but responding to a child's request as quickly as possible helps him know you see him and care about his needs.
5. You have a great smile
Kids start out smiling effortlessly and frequently, but as they get older, they smile less often as they become more self-conscious and grow afraid of seeming "uncool." Complimenting a child's smile is a great way of telling her how much you love to see her happy and showing her you notice how she feels. Kids love to know their parents notice and care about their emotions.
6. I missed you
Whether you left him at a babysitter's house for an hour or you were out of town for a week, let your child know how happy it makes you to see him again. Kids will sometimes get the mistaken impression that their parents love having time off from parenting (it might be the look of relief and exhaustion every night when the last child is finally in bed). That's not the truth, of course. Let your children know how much their presence means to you.
7. You have such a knack for...
As kids discover their talents, let them know you notice what they're good at by using this phrasing. It avoids the "You're really great at math!" format that puts too much pressure on them, but still points out you know they have unique skills.
Try to focus on more than just sports or academics. Is your child really compassionate, great at sharing, fixing her hair or picking out clothes? These are all skills that can be complimented.
8. I'm so glad you're part of our family
Let your children know how important they are to the family by pointing out the things they do to contribute. Maybe your son is good at remembering to put away his coat and shoes or your daughter does well at helping out when her siblings are sick. Success at school is important, too, and is often celebrated with more pomp and circumstance. Don't let success within the home go unrecognized.
9. I love you just the way you are
As kids grow up, they start to realize not every child was created equally. Everyone has different skills and abilities and matures physically, socially and emotionally at different rates. These differences can lead to insecurity, which is why kids love to hear that you love them just the way they are. It's reassuring to them to know that no matter what their failures or inadequacies, they have someone who will always be there for them.
Children of all ages need to know someone believes in them. Whether they're struggling with learning to walk or learning to drive, a parent's unfailing support will always inspire them to keep trying and to do better. It doesn't matter if she wants to be President of the United States or he wants to invent the next smartphone; it's important your kids know you believe they can achieve whatever dreams they pursue.