Don’t Praise, But Do Compliment

There is probably no soul on earth that can live without getting complimented every once in a while. Age is no bar when it comes to receiving compliments. Compliments are often remembered for a long time after they’re spoken. Its effects are multifold.


  • It provides the necessary elevation to one’s identity.
  • It encourages the receiver to improve further.
  • It inspires them to make an effort.
  • It builds self-confidence.
  • It heals aching hearts.

Acknowledging them is one of the best things we can do to have a positive impact on the people around us.

“Remember, man does not live on bread alone: sometimes he needs a little buttering up.” ― John C. Maxwell

Children are no different. They are ever hungry for compliments and encouragement.

The finished bottle of milk by an infant, a simple straight line drawn by a toddler, the first sentence spoken by your child, a colorful treat made by your girl, a consolation prize won by your boy, all of these need to be complimented. Wondering why? The efforts put in for each of these simple acts, needs to be recognized for the child to make an effort to do better in the future.

Encouragement works like magic. When you compliment them for having accepted their mistake, you’re encouraging them to be honest and be trustworthy. When we do not think twice before disapproving a wrong deed of theirs, should we shy away from complimenting them for the right deed? No. We must make an effort to recognize their strengths and help them improve upon their weaknesses. Encouragement gives a boost to their identity. They feel accepted. Acceptance is bliss.

It is not necessary to wait for a perfect occasion or a perfect deed to compliment them. Getting a glass of water for you as soon as you’re back from work is itself a great act of kindness. A smile with a “Thank you darling!” is well deserved. Isn’t it?

A “Good job” on your appraisal form from your manager makes you want to do better… Right??? So imagine how it works with an innocent little child. It also helps them realize there are bigger things to achieve and they need to strive hard to achieve those.

Compliment them even when they fail with “At least you tried. Next time you’ll do much better.” This helps in the process of growth and helps build enthusiasm in the young souls. It also makes them feel that they are not alone in this expedition. It shows them that you care and that you are with them.


This is the scene I bump into most evenings and like any normal parent I also end up screaming and shouting at my girls for having messed up the floor. But I do make it a point to compliment them when they help me clear it. It helps remove hard feelings.

The most important thing to keep in mind is the thin line between compliment and flattery (or praise). The child should never take the compliments for granted. He/she should not feel superior in any way, just because you’re complimenting. It’s as simple as the difference between “You’ve done well.” and “You’re the best.” The former lets them know that there is still room for further improvement. Whereas the latter claims they’ve reached the peak of improvement. A perfect mix of ‘Yes’ and ‘No’, ‘Do’ and ‘Don’t’, ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ and ‘Sorry’ and ‘Thank you’, is what keeps the momentum going.

What is your take on this? I am sure you have your own stories and experiences to share.

Rekha Dhyani is a mother of two girls, a 7 year old and a 5 year old, settled in Delhi. She’s a marketer by profession: apart from juggling with Excel sheets, Presentations and Strategy Documents; she also manages to remain sane struggling between alphabets and multiplication tables at the same time. She hopes to win over the love of her life back, which she has lost to the little girls since the past few years. Her new found passion in writing frequently on her blog is the only stress-relief she claims.

  • I have only one thing to say, and no I am not flattering you – ‘Good job done!’ 😀
    Completely with you, Rekha. I compliment my son a lot, much to the chagrin of older-hence-wiser voices which talk of ‘buree nazar’. Why should my boy miss out on the pats because someone has an evil eye? Plus, my God is a kind hearted man. He keeps me protected from them, I’m sure! 🙂
    Loved your debut!

  • rachnap

    Completely agree! I am of the same view that we must applaud the effort instead of only weighing victories and defeats. It motivates the child. Also, excessive praise is avoidable. Constant encouragement is definitely welcome!

  • Sid Balachandran

    I’m all for encouragement and well done(s). Which reminds me, great post! And definitely food for thought. Motivation is an important tool. for both kids and adults alike!

  • Diana Natasha Pinto

    It’s really important to compliment and encourage a kid. The little compliments go a long way in building their self esteem and making them into confident adults. That was a wonderful post Rekha.

    • Rekha

      Thanks Diana! The immediate smile that comes upon their faces itself is one big reason to part away with one or two compliments once in a while. It definitely boosts their self-confidence (I’m talking from personal experience). 🙂

  • Very balanced post, I agree…we need to give the right amount of encouragement to the kids. It is positive reinforcements like these that makes them do better from within.

    • Rekha

      Thank you Prasad! Encouragement is the keyword.

  • Rekha

    Thank you Kalpana ji! You said it. Compliments go a long way to help both children and adults have confidence in themselves. It gives the necessary boost to their self-esteem. And thank you for the ‘compliment’! 🙂