How Does Your Child React to Praise?

Some children don't know how to react to praise because they think it's arrogant or they don't think they deserve it. How can we help?
How Does Your Child React to Praise?

Last update: 14 September, 2021

Praise is something that children are subject to even before they’re born. Parents, siblings, relatives, and close friends shower babies with compliments. However, over time, their relationship with these displays of affection and admiration can become cloudy. Then, many children don’t know how to react to praise or respond appropriately to these compliments.

Something that used to be so natural now becomes confusing and complicated. As children grow and reach puberty and adolescence, accepting compliments becomes even more difficult for them. Much of the responsibility for this lies with the experiences they have and the education they receive. Therefore, pay attention to how your child reacts to praise so that you can deal with any difficulties in time.

How does your child react to praise?

A dad giving hid child a hi five.

Downplay them

In early childhood, it’s common for kids to accept compliments willingly, naturally, and spontaneously. However, as puberty approaches, many kids start downplaying these compliments, responding with “it’s not a big deal” or “I was lucky” rather than “thank you.”

This is something very cultural and that reveals the influence of our children’s upbringing. With the intention of instilling humility in children, sometimes we accidentally lead them to disparage their achievements or abilities. However, knowing how to accept compliments is very important.

When a young person is recognized for the effort they put into their studies, their talent for drawing, or how good they are at making friends, they can say thank you and know that they aren’t being arrogant. If they can’t receive a simple compliment, it may also be hard for them to accept love, help, or understanding. These are things that will, without a doubt, bring unhappiness into their lives.

Suspicion and distrust

In other cases, there are children who, when receiving a compliment, automatically think that there’s a hidden meaning. “If they’re praising me, it’s because they want to ask me for something; I did something wrong and they’re complimenting me because they feel bad; They said it to me ironically, but they’re really making fun of me.” When a young person thinks this when being complimented, it’s because they don’t really believe what they’re being told is true, or they don’t see the compliments as something natural.

In this case, they might have self-esteem problems. “I don’t have qualities that others like.” However, it’s also possible that there’s an inappropriate communication pattern. That is, the child thinks that expressing compliments isn’t something natural, so there must be an ulterior motive. This can happen if the family doesn’t use much positive language and social reinforcement.

Accepts them naturally

Lastly, your child may be able to accept a compliment normally, taking it as it is, saying thank you, and feeling flattered.

A mom kissing her child's forehead.

In this case, it’s clear that the child has good self-esteem, that they’re aware of their virtues and qualities, and they feel worthy of receiving affection and recognition. This is also a sign that they’ve grown up in a positive environment where people admire and empower each other.

This is a really good thing, first of all, because it allows the child to feel comfortable with who they are and to develop healthy self-esteem. In addition, this predisposes them to find the strengths and positives in those around them and express compliments to others without fear. This is something that will greatly help their social relationships, making them healthier and more satisfying.

Teach your child to react to praise

So, if you think your child may downplay compliments or view them with suspicion or distrust, work with them on it. Show them that being humble isn’t denying your qualities or downplaying your achievements, but simply not feeling superior to anyone. In the same way, start talking in a positive and loving way at home, and make praise common.

Encouraging your child to grow up loving themself and feeling valuable is a tool that will help them for life. However, knowing how to receive compliments doesn’t imply depending on them. Remind them that the most important recognition is the one that comes from within.

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