I recently was able to recover quite a chunk of old writing.  This particular post is one of the ones that I was able to find, and I thought it was timely, given our school week starting on Monday.  Also, I’ve begun to notice a few things that tell me my kids might need more words of affirmation slathered on them.  So this was timely to find and read again.  Hello, Heather from four years ago…. thanks for teaching me things I apparently still need to learn.


Originally posted January 8, 2016

Too often, I fall into the trap of using the same compliments over and over again with my kids.  “Great job!” is a standard around here. “There has got to be a better way to praise your child,” echoes in my head when I watch home movies (or movies from my cellphone) and my parental voice rings out “Good job, Million!  Good job, Creedence.  Good job…..Great job….. etc. etc. etc.”

I don’t want my compliments and affirmation to be all about my kids’ performance, physical features, or intelligence.  I want to praise them for the character I see them beginning to form, and I want them to know that someone thinks they’re really special.  There is a really fine line between performance-based praise and character-based praise, and it can be difficult to tell them apart.  Confession: in case you couldn’t already tell, words of affirmation or praise is not my strong suit—but I’ve been working on it in my life for a few years.

Affirmation doesn’t have to be praise.  Affirming by itself is a statement of support or approval.  You can affirm someone’s actions without being lovey-dovey or gooshy about the situation.   You can also affirm someone by agreeing with them about an opinion.

i.e. You can affirm your child by agreeing with them that a song they really enjoy is fun.  You can affirm a child by laughing at their jokes…even the ones that make no sense at all.  Or the fart jokes.

I’ve compiled a list of 52 new or unique ways to praise your child this year.  With some or all of these tone of voice and body language definitely makes a huge difference.  If you can’t say these honestly, try coming up with a few of your own.  Think of character qualities that you appreciate in your child.

Here’s a list of 52 unique ways to praise your child this year.

  1. I really like how hard you’ve worked on that (insert task.)  You’re showing dedication.
  2. I can see that you really enjoy (insert activity).  I wonder how you’re going to use that skill someday?
  3. I’m so glad that you communicated your needs clearly to me.  Thank you!
  4. You’re using such kind words today!  Way to go!
  5. I saw you being gracious today, and I appreciate you.
  6. High five!  You shared so well today.  I noticed when you (fill in the blank).
  7. Woah!  What you did took a lot of courage!  I’m so proud of you.
  8. Thank you for the pat on the back.  It feels good when you show me you love me that way.
  9. I think you’re fantastic.
  10. Here comes the good-attitude man!  Way to go for choosing cheerfulness, even when things didn’t go like you planned!
  11. Wow!  You were so resourceful when you chose to do that.
  12. You know what I appreciate about you?  You’re a very confident person.  That shines through in how you talk and act, and confidence is a great thing to have.
  13. Look at what an imagination my girl has!  I’m so amazed at all of the wonderful things you’ve come up with.  You must be a great storyteller.
  14. Wow!  What a helper!  Thank you for helping me set the table today.
  15. I am so fascinated at the picture you drew/painted/colored.  I like how you used the red color here.  This picture makes me feel happy/sad/excited.  What were you thinking about when you made it?
  16. I love the boisterous way you sing that song.  It makes me want to sing along!
  17. You are so special to me.  I remember when I first saw you, and I knew that you would change my life forever.
  18. You are one of the best gifts that I was ever given.
  19. Being your mommy makes me happy.
  20. Look at that big smile.  I wonder if I can smile even bigger than that?!
  21. You are such a friendly person.  If I didn’t know you, I’d want to be your friend.
  22. Your giggle makes me laugh.
  23. You are such a hard worker.  I’ve been watching you (insert activity) today, and I see that you’re working hard at it.
  24. You are dependable.  I know I can always count on you!
  25. You are so enthusiastic.  I love how you’re expressing your joy!
  26. I enjoy spending time with you.
  27. Sitting next to you on the couch makes me happy, because I enjoy being with you.
  28. Thank you so much for doing your chores without complaining.  You’re a great help to me.
  29. I saw the way you put your toys away today, and I wanted to let you know that I appreciate your orderliness.
  30. When you (insert action), I saw you being sensitive to (other person’s name.)  That is a very good thing, and your heart did what was right.
  31. You are becoming a man of integrity; you did what you said you were going to do!  Way to go!
  32. You are a strong person.
  33. I am so glad that you’re you.
  34. Those are some pretty big feelings.  I’m glad you used your words.
  35. Did you know that I like being around you?
  36. Thank you for bringing me my mug.  I like how you were thinking about what other people want.
  37. Oh no!  I see what happened.  Thank you for coming to me and being honest.  That takes courage.
  38. What a beautiful song.  I can tell that your heart is cheerful today.
  39. I’m so glad you were responsible today.  You chose to do what you knew you should.
  40. Every day I see new inner strength in you.  You’re going to be a wonderfully strong person when you grow up!
  41. Good job staying still when I told you to.  That took self-control.  It was a dangerous situation, and I didn’t want you to get hurt.
  42. I know you feel bad about what happened.  I also see that you’ve learned from that experience.  Wisdom is beginning to grow in you.
  43. Wow!  Good job asking your brother to share and accepting “no!” for an answer.  I know it’s disappointing, but you just showed me that you’re learning self-discipline.
  44. Thank you for telling me the truth.  Honesty is part of being a (your last name).
  45. Your eyes twinkle when you tell stories.  I’m so glad I have such an expressive girl.
  46. Sometimes I feel sad too.  Thanks for controlling your body when you’re sad and coming to talk about it.
  47. You just did a 54-piece puzzle!  You’ve never done one before!  I’m so proud of you for learning something new!
  48. That book is one of my favorites too.  I think it’s because the characters are so friendly.  Which one is your favorite?
  49. Ha! That was so funny!  Can you tell that joke again in a silly voice?  We’ll see if it makes me laugh even harder!
  50. I love you just the way you are.
  51. My favorite thing today was the terrific silly dance you did.  Can we do that dance together?
  52. I like snuggling with you.  Spending time with you makes me feel closer to you.

There you have it.  Go and praise your child… Use your words kindly and graciously, and they’ll be so receptive.