Should Parents Compliment Their Children?

Although it's positive for parents to compliment their children, they should avoid doing it excessively. Today we'll look at the reasons why.
Should Parents Compliment Their Children?

Last update: 07 August, 2021

We all like to be complimented when we achieve something or when we do something well. However, parents should be cautious not to compliment their children too much. On the one hand, this can turn into too many expectations on the part of the adults. And, on the other hand, it can make it difficult for the little ones to take responsibility and become autonomous.

Compliments vs. flattery

The verb to flatter refers to the action of praising a person in an exaggerated and generally self-serving way to satisfy their pride or vanity.

When a parent compliments a child, they don’t necessarily have to have a specific interest. What’s more, when most parents compliment their children, they don’t intend, at least consciously, to simply satisfy or increase their vanity. On the contrary, when parents praise their children, they do so, primarily, to show them love and affection.

A young girl happily receiving praise from her mother.

So, it’s good for parents to give their children favorable comments when they achieve something. Or to highlight their qualities and merits in regard to some activity or task, since all this helps children build their personality and self-esteem and feel valued and loved. However, although parents’ intentions are good when they compliment their children, everything in life must be in its proper measure.

“Rule of life: Don’t take either flattery or insults seriously.”

Is it positive to compliment our children?

Yes, it’s positive to compliment our little ones, but, as we’ve said, parents need to find the right balance. That’s to say, it’s good to compliment children from time to time, but it’s not good to overdo it for reasons such as the following:

  • It’s one thing to flatter children so that they feel capable, competent, and self-confident. But it’s quite another to make them feel “all-powerful” and better than others. It’s important to be careful and teach children to differentiate between self-confidence and arrogance.
  • Children must learn to do things well, to behave correctly, and to have a good attitude. But they shouldn’t expect constant praise in return just for doing so. Rather, they should do these things because these are their responsibilities and obligations. Excessive flattery can produce dependence in children and a lack of autonomy.
  • Contrary to what’s thought about making children stronger, excessive praise from parents can make them weaker. Children should learn to do things by themselves, with their own effort and learning from their mistakes.
  • Not flattering children so much can help them manage their frustrations better. It’s better to teach children to fight for and achieve their goals through internal motivation and not through praise and praise from their parents.
  • Praise doesn’t mean lying. Therefore, parents should accept their children as they are, and should be cautious about highlighting virtues or qualities that their children don’t possess.
A mother and daughter lying on the couch, smiling out the windown.

It’s better to encourage and motivate rather than to lavish praise on children

Instead of complimenting children once they’ve achieved something, it’s better for their parents to encourage and motivate their kids so that they enjoy the journey of achieving their goals. And so, in this way, parents will teach their children to strive, to be more constant, and to persevere.

Therefore, it’s fine to give our children some praise when they achieve something, such as You’re a champ. You’re the best. You look so handsome! What a great job! However, it’s more positive to encourage and challenge our children to achieve their projects and dreams. And to teach them that their own improvement’s more important than the best flattery that can exist.

And finally, it’s much more positive for parents to make their children understand the reasons and benefits of behaving well and having good attitudes, rather than simply praising them for these things.

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  • McCormack, P. (.n.d.). Formación de Padres de Familia. Cultivando el carácter de los niños. Alentar vs. halagar o elogiar. Recuperado de http://parentteachersupport.org/documents/0S6-Alentar-Halagar-Elogiar.pdf
  • Elias, M. J. (2014)Educar con inteligencia emocional: Cómo conseguir que nuestros hijos hijos sean sociables, felices y responsables. DEBOLS! LLO. Recuperado de https://books.google.es/books?hl=es&lr=&id=Mi7QAwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT3&dq=educar+a+los+hijos&ots=vcpYDzNS3h&sig=4xVGjujL7OoSnf5x05D8t9kVh-Q#v=onepage&q=educar%20a%20los%20hijos&f=false