We all like to receive compliments, but have you ever thought about what makes a "good" compliment? Dr. Todd Whitaker, a noted researcher and author, lists five elements that make praise effective. Here are the five.
Authentic - if the person being praised or complimented (I'm using them interchangeably here) feels the compliment is not real, it's dead on arrival. So don't just make up stuff. That sounds easy, but we do it with our kids all the time just to make them feel better. Warning - they can smell it a mile off.
Specific - if I get a general "that's good" I'm still not sure what the other person likes. Take the time to use descriptive words. And by the way, a look in the eyes helps a lot in this area as well as the authenticity.
Immediate - the sooner the better. This almost goes without saying, but it's worth repeating. The closer the compliment to the action, the more meaningful it is.
Clean - this is hard. It means if I'm complimenting you to get something from you it's not a compliment at all. It's manipulation. But if I can honestly say this action is for my child's best not just my own, that's not manipulation. Motivation is the key; why am I praising?
Private - the most powerful praise is done when just between the two of us. Praise in front of a group can embarrass or even seem to be manipulative. Just do it privately, and it will mean more.
All the above are somewhat obvious, but often we just forget or get a bit too lazy to follow through as we should. Remember, you are your child's coach. God has blessed you with these precious children. Thanks for allowing us to partner with you in that endeavor.
In His Service,
Tim Miesner, Principal