goodManners: Say something nice Tips for teaching your children how to give and receive compliments

When was the last time someone acknowledged you with a genuine compliment? How did you feel? When was the last time you offered someone a genuine compliment?


With everything going on in life it’s sometimes easy to forget the power of a compliment. The Webster Dictionary defines a compliment as “an admiring remark”.  Mark Twain once said “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”


It feels good to receive a compliment, as well as to give one. Let’s face it – we all have a need to feel special and valued by other people.


A compliment allows us to step outside our selves and focus on someone else. It forces us to find the good in a situation or person. If practiced daily, it may be an effective tool in achieving a more positive outlook on things.


The ability to offer kind, heartfelt compliments is like the well-buffed polish on a well-mannered individual.


Teaching children the power of compliments will serve them well in life. Although a compliment is a very simple act it may be helpful for children to understand its importance and an opportunity for parents to provide more specific instruction in how to develop and communicate a sincere compliment.


The following points may assist in your discussion.


  • A compliment is an act of kindness. They are words that bring a moment of joy and recognition to someone else.


  • Help your child identify a list of qualities to look for in a person or situation. It can be a list of words such as kind, creative, generous, pretty, funny, courteous, caring. When you are out with your child, help her identify when someone is acting in a way that deserves a compliment.


  • Try to give specific examples, with age appropriate words and ways to form a compliment. For example,


“You really are a lot of fun to be around.”

“You are very kind.”

“That jacket looks great on you.”

“The way you solved that problem was very cleaver.”

“It was nice of you to teach Jodi how to play that game.”


  • Responding properly to a compliment is important. Try to encourage your child to remember two things. First, compliments should always be acknowledged and never ignored. Second, when responding to a compliment make sure there is eye contact with the other person and politely say “thank you”. Notice I didn’t say you should have a prolonged conversation or respond back with “oh, it was nothing” or “you’re being silly”. If someone took the time and energy to offer a kind compliment you should always assume it was heartfelt and should be acknowledged as such with a “thank you”.


  • Help your child make compliment giving a habit. Challenge him to give at least three compliments everyday.