Wholesome compliments

Praising and complimenting children comes so naturally to most adults. We connect with them, we see them as individuals, support their achievements and celebrate the incredible things that they do. Research suggests that we can tailor our compliments for children to direct their thoughts around praise away from external validation and what they must ‘do’.

Instead, we can focus on who they are as an individual and the process that they have been through rather than the end result (or product). Thinking about the kind of person a child can become EG, considerate, thoughtful, persevering, curious etc could be the focus of our compliments to reinforce the values we hold for our children and family units. 

Some of the examples below can be used to show appreciation for the whole child and their personality traits rather than things they have produced;

  • I’ve noticed how hard you’ve been trying
  • You’re incredibly thoughtful
  • Your practice is really paying off
  • You make me proud everyday
  • You inspire me
  • You’re passionate
  • You seem so happy with this
  • You’ve worked at this for a long time
  • I hope you are proud of this too


We can also demonstrate our level of attention to children through the specificity of our compliments and words of praise such as;

  • I can see the yellow pencil over here 
  • I see lines here in black and 1 in red 
  • The words you used to speak to your sister were very polite/patient
  • You asked for the pencil, they said no and you came to me for help
  • You paid so much attention to each of your teeth when you were brushing them! 


Being specific tells a child that you have really seen them. You have noticed their actions, their progression or their hard work. They can and will feel accomplished, praised and loved with a sense that being who they are helped to achieve this feeling. Validation becomes internally motivated and not externally seeking. 



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