Would you consider taking a few moments –less than ONE MINUTE — to say or write something positive to your kid?
It can be just a quick verbal compliment, like “I noticed you helped your brother with his math problem. That was kind.” Or it could be a positive note left on her pillow about some character trait you really appreciate.
Giving a compliment can make your kid’s day – sometimes even their week, month, or year! A genuine, meaningful compliment can stay with a person forever.
At camp, we have a tradition called “WOW”s. A WOW is just a fun, campy name for a compliment. We keep a bulletin board on the ramp to our dining area. Kids and counselors leave WOW notes for each other on the board throughout the day. The WOWs range from expressing gratitude for the person to specific compliments on character traits. The best compliments are about positive character traits or actions.
The board gets filled every single day. The notes are then taken down, a few are read out loud at morning assembly, and all are delivered in the camp mail to the recipients (more mail at camp = big win!).
Most WOWs are treasured and kept as a keepsake. I’ve kept every single one that I’ve ever received.
Compliments can be so meaningful, and I’d like to share just a few reasons why giving more compliments to your kids can have a powerful, positive impact on both them and on your whole family.
Increased Positivity & Optimism
When compliments are flowing freely, we are looking for more good things to say. While we humans are naturally biased towards negativity, we can flip our brain’s switch towards more positivity by focusing on things we’re grateful for about others.
Why do we want to help our kids be more optimistic?
A more optimistic outlook predicts success in many areas including health, happiness, and relationships. In his popular book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, Paul Tough outlines the research behind why optimism is among the six character traits that are most predictive of children’s success later in life. Tough determined the importance of optimism based on some of Martin Seligman’s research. Seligman wrote, “Pessimists tend to react to negative events by explaining them as permanent, personal, and pervasive.”
Tough adds to that concept with more specific examples: “Failed a test? It’s not because you didn’t prepare well; it’s because you’re stupid. If you get turned down for a date, there’s no point in asking someone else; you’re simply unlovable. Optimists, by contrast, look for specific, limited, short-term explanations for bad events, and as a result, in the face of a setback, they’re more likely to pick themselves up and try again.”
Which relationships do you prefer? Ones where the other person reminds you of your best self? Or relationships where you are constantly reminded of your shortcomings?
When you give your kid a compliment, it can make your bond stronger. They see that you notice their good stuff — even when they are not perfect. When they see that you appreciate and notice their good qualities, it matters a lot, especially if they’re going through a time when things don’t seem to be going well.
Social Skills Modeling
While giving a genuine compliment, you’re modeling a really important social skill – one that your child can use to attract friends like magnets. Being able to give compliments is an important social skill that draws friends like a magnet. And your child will learn by hearing and seeing you.
Genuine compliments have the power to make your kid feel happier, more accepted, and more connected and loved.
Are you ready to try giving your kid a WOW? I’d love to hear how your kid responds! Comment below or send me an email!