As a therapist, I have talked with parents about the importance of meaningful praise in boosting a child’s self-esteem and strengthening family bonds. As a mom of two, I have conscientiously made sure to provide affirmative feedback on behaviors I want to see repeated and to communicate compliments aloud, rather than assuming my daughters know how proud of them I feel.
The flip side of the “How to Praise” category is equally important, though perhaps more challenging. While most people enjoy offering positive feedback, many find it difficult to be on the receiving end of genuine compliments.
Do you know a young person who finds it a challenge to accept compliments? Here are six Do’s and Don’ts that might help them out:
The DO’s of Receiving Praise
1. Accept compliments with a simple “Thank you.”
2. Let the person know that you appreciate the compliment:
“Thank you for saying that. I worked really hard on this picture.”
3. Look the person in the eye when you acknowledge the compliment. Teach kids that a friendly smile is a great way to use body language to support words of appreciation.
The DONT’s of Receiving Praise
1. Don’t snub the compliment by disagreeing with it:
If someone tells you your hair looks good, do not say, “Ugh, I’m having a bad hair day.”
If you are complimented on scoring during a sports match, do not say, “I totally messed up today—usually I score way more.”
A young person may think he is being humble, but his words may unintentionally insult the speaker and make him look ungrateful. Further, the awkward moments make people hesitant to offer praise again in the future.
2. Don’t shy away from the compliment by averting your eyes, shrugging your shoulders, or giving the credit to someone else. Be proud of your personal strengths and acknowledge the compliment with confidence!
3. Don’t return the compliment like a boomerang. While it is always nice to compliment others, returning a compliment immediately often sounds insincere. Wait for a genuine moment, then affirm abundantly!
Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2011.