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2/6/24 blog post

how to give a compliment that motivates your child

use this formula to give praise and boost confidence

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in this article: 

The saying should go, if you have something nice to say, go ahead and say it! Compliments can boost confidence, so it’s a positive when you say to your kids:  

  • “You are so cute!”  
  • “Nice shoes! Or  
  • “You’re so funny” 

Everyone wants to hear nice things, especially kids, and compliments are a way to create connections with the kids that we love. However, these common compliments only scratch the surface and could lead to a child thinking that their self-worth and value is based on their appearance or material things.  

When we give meaningful compliments, we can enhance a child’s self-esteem and encourage them to continue showing positive behaviors. 

“Giving kids compliments enhances your relationship with them. It helps them to recognize the positive things about themselves and reinforces positive behaviors. It also demonstrates to your kids that you see them for who they are and love them,” says Emily Weitz children’s mental health expert.  

try this FREE GUIDE to help create more meaningful compliments 

There are so many great compliments to give a child, but there is also a way to craft your compliments to make them more meaningful and stick to their hearts.

The On Our Sleeves experts created a hands-on guide to help you build a compliment to share with others. Download today by clicking the button below! Then, keep reading for a special formula to building a compliment, specific examples meaningful compliments and more tips to help boost your child's confidence.

download the create a compliment guide


A formula for a great compliment 

For a compliment to be meaningful, it needs to be heartfelt and specific. If you’re running out of ways to say how much you cherish someone or want to make your compliments even more impactful you can follow this simple formula: 

Start with excitement + point out a specific action + share the direct impact to you or others 

Step 1: Start with an exclamation to show your excitement and positivity. Try  

  • Wow! 
  • Amazing! 
  • Outstanding! 
  • Terrific! 
  • That’s Great! 
  • Awesome Job! 

Step 2: Be specific  

When giving a compliment, the more specific, the better! If you are telling them “Good job” let them know what they did a “good job” with! 

Focus on their effort instead of the end result. For example, you could acknowledge how hard your child tried, studied or practiced instead of giving them kudos for getting an “A” or winning the game.  

 The goal is to encourage hard work. We want to encourage kids to continue to work hard and not get defeated if they do make a mistake, lose a game, or receive a less than perfect grade.  

Some examples of this would be:  

  • “I noticed you practicing your reading skills before bed.”  
  • “I saw you trying your best during the game when you were running to first base!”  

When complimenting your kid for who they are, focus on specific parts of their personalities and what makes them unique. Think about the qualities that make them special and share what you value about them. Don’t forget to include a specific example of when you’ve noticed this with them.  

For example you can tell them you appreciate their: 

  • Humor 
  •  Kindness 
  • Creativity 
  • Willingness to try new things

Step 3: Share the direct impact  

Kids want to know that they are making a difference. So when you give a compliment, look for ways to share how they are bringing positivity to others. Share how their helpfulness made your day easier, or how you noticed they help their team!  

Helpful Hint: You can write your compliments down too! It can be hard to receive a compliment, even adults know this! If you truly want your positive words to have a full impact, consider that some kids may have an easier time receiving a compliment if they can read it in their own space or on their own time. And with written compliments and sweet notes, kids can keep them someplace where they can revisit the compliment often and when needed. Giving a mix of both written and verbal compliments can help you reach kids in different ways and offers different opportunities for them to experience your love.   

Here are some examples of ways to make your compliments more specific: 

instead of... try...

"Good job!"

“Good job on your drawing. I really like the colors you chose!” 

“All “A’s” this quarter! Nice!” 

“I am really proud of how hard you worked this quarter on your schoolwork.” 

“You got a trophy?! Great!” 

“You were a great teammate this season!

You worked hard to improve your skills and cheered on your teammates.” 

“You are so funny.” 

“You are so funny!

You always know the right joke to say to make us all laugh and I appreciate that about you.” 



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Emily Weitz, BSW, LSW

Outreach Coordinator
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