Many young children enjoy giving a high-five to recognize accomplishments.

Teaching Children How to Praise and Compliment Others

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

“Mommy, did I do good? Did you like it?” Children love receiving praise from parents and teachers, but they might not consider offering praise to other children. You can model behavior that encourages your child to praise classmates or siblings. Think about how pleasant your home would be if you heard your children praising and complimenting each other instead of fighting and bickering. What a paradise that would be!

1. Model

Your child learns to praise and compliment others by watching you. Your preschooler spends three minutes trying to tie his shoes before he accomplishes it. “Good job, Tyler! I knew you could do it,” you say. Your daughter brings you a colorful drawing but you aren’t quite sure what it depicts, so you say, “Wow, what bright colors. Why don’t you tell me about it?” You don’t have to praise everything your child does, but special efforts, mastery of difficult skills and new accomplishments let you model praise and encourage your child to join you in praising others.

2. Specific

Make your praise specific and directly related to something your child controls. For example, “Wow, you did a great job of cleaning your room and you did it quickly too,” or “I’m so impressed that you played that song all the way through. Good job!” When you encourage your child to praise others, you can help her find specific things to tie to praise. “Janie, what do you like about what your sister did?” or “What do you think about the way your brother tried to help you?” She learns to make her praise specific like yours.

3. Opportunities to Praise

You can notice opportunities to compliment someone and then point them out to your child. “Did you see how well he put that tower together? Let’s tell him about it.” You can let him do most of the talking. If he receives help from others to complete a project, such as planting seeds or making a mural, you can encourage him to add praise to his appreciation. You might say, “When you thank your sister, you might tell her what you think about how she planted the flowers.” As you help him find opportunities to praise, he will learn to find them himself.

4. Acts of Praise

Words are not the only way children praise and compliment one other. When someone does a dramatic presentation, sings a song or tells a story, you might say, “Do you think you can show Jeff what a great job he did?” and encourage your child to clap. You could encourage your child to high-five another child for a job well done or issue the child a tangible word of praise. For example, a sticker with a smiling face, clapping hands or a big plus sign communicates praise to pre-readers. You might say, “Andy, do you want to give Jeff a praise sticker?” to encourage him to find one in the praise box.

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