Make your compliments count

5 October 2018

Make your compliments count

  • Positive Parenting
by Michael Grose

Ever notice how small hinges can swing really big doors? It’s a reminder that it’s the smallest things we do in our families that often have the biggest impact. One way you can maximise your impact on your family’s wellbeing and your children’s self-esteem is to make your compliments count.

Here’s a story about how a few well-chosen words had a huge impact on a child, with an explanation of how you can do the same.

Next time, your child does something worthwhile take the time to give a sincere compliment. Smile and add a little touch to really let them know how you feel. Watch your child’s reaction.

I overheard a friend tell her eight-year old daughter last week: “You did such a good job helping your brother yesterday. You are such lovely big sister!”. My friend’s face was lit up with a big warm smile. At the same time, she gently put her hand on her daughter’s shoulder as she spoke. The little girl beamed, and then happily went off to play. It was a simple parenting moment among many that my friend would have initiated that day.

I couldn’t help thinking that it doesn’t take much to nurture a child’s self esteem and create good feelings at home. Compliments, when given sincerely, have an enormous impact on those who receive them. We all grow a little taller, at least inside, when we receive them. We also feel closer to the person giving them.

Compliments satisfy the deep craving we all have to be appreciated. They are easy to give, but they are also easy not to give.

We forget. 


We underestimate their impact.


We haven’t developed the habit of giving compliments.

There were two things my friend did that amplified the impact of the compliment. Firstly, she smiled as she gave it. Secondly, she touched her daughter as well. Touch will always amplify a compliment. It makes it personal.

Her mother’s smile showed her daughter how her mum really felt. In fact, the touch and smile said it all. The words justified the smile and touch. 
The compliment was given and received through three senses – visually, kinaesthetically and auditory.

That’s how kids will process all your messages – they see, they feel, they hear. We often focus on the words and forget the visual and kinaesthetic.

Next time, your child does something worthwhile take the time to give a sincere compliment. Smile and add a little touch to really let them know how you feel. Watch your child’s reaction.

I promise it will have a significant impact. It doesn’t take much to touch their little hearts.

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Michael Grose

Michael Grose, founder of Parenting Ideas, is one of Australia’s leading parenting educators. He’s the author of 10 books for parents including Thriving! and the best-selling Why First Borns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It, and his latest release Spoonfed Generation: How to raise independent children.