How to Give and Receive a Compliment Like a Pro

On a trip to Target a couple months ago, my 3-year-old and 6-year-old were D-O-N-E. You know the feeling, I’m sure. They were bickering, the 3-year-old kept trying to climb out of the cart, and I was just trying to focus on what I was doing so I wouldn’t buy the wrong type of deodorant and trash bags. Again.

Then, out of nowhere, a middle-aged man stopped me. I braced myself, kind of sure he was going to say something about how I needed to control my kids better. Instead, he kindly said, “You are doing a great job. Your kids are so well behaved.” I was a bit stunned by his unsolicited compliment. His wife smiled knowingly at me, and in that moment all the frenzy I was feeling just melted away.

He was right. The chaos was just in my mind. My kids were actually being pretty good… and that kind reassurance was all I needed to feel warm fuzzies the rest of the day. (Thanks again, Mister, wherever you are!)

How to Give and Receive a Compliment Like a Pro

Now imagine for a minute what the world might be like if more people did this. If we all gave each other more compliments, how would the world change? I think that upon hearing a compliment people would walk a little taller — maybe with a bounce in their step. I know I sure did that day I received an unexpected compliment at Target.

And it’s worth pointing out that compliments work wonders for kids. With all the correction we have to do as parents — it comes with the territory, but it’s a LOT over the years! — it’s a good idea to make sure that your kids also hear positive reinforcement. Help them know what they are doing right and that they are loved always. Simply saying, “I love spending time with you” is a good place to start. (See 64 Positive Things to Say to Kids for more ideas.)

So out of all the unofficial holidays (I’m looking at you, CAPS LOCK DAY), National Compliment Day is one that’s actually worth celebrating. It’s January 24th, 2016.

Of course, we’ve got some tips and freebies for you. You know how we are. Couldn’t leave you hanging!

Here’s the Polite Kids 101 scoop on…

How to Give a Compliment and How to Accept One

How to Give a Compliment

There are just a couple of things to think about when you’re giving someone a compliment. Talk to your kids about these, and they’ll be giving compliments like pros in no time!

1. Be honest.

Don’t exaggerate or it won’t seem genuine.

2. Be positive.

No sneaky back-handed compliments. For example, “I didn’t think you’d get an A!” That sounds like a compliment — sort of. It also sounds like you don’t think the person is very smart or worked very hard. Yikes! Not the goal here. Be careful with how you say it so your compliment doesn’t come off the wrong way.

3. Be specific.

Think about the person’s strengths, talents, and things you admire about them. Pick one of those qualities to tell the person.


How to Receive a Compliment

Why is it so difficult to receive a compliment sometimes? It can be so easy to reply by pointing out your shortcomings, or telling yourself that what the person said wasn’t really true. But all that does is rob you of the joy the person was trying to provide you with in the first place! No bueno.

Compliments are a two-way street. You’ve got to accept them for them to make the world a happier place!

On the flip side of that, don’t reply like my 3-year-old daughter does, “I know!” It’s kind of cute when she does it, but you can’t get away with it if you’re older than she is. As I’m teaching her now, simply say “Thank you.” It really is that easy!

Want more ideas on how to respond well to a compliment? I LOVE the cartoon guide to accepting a compliment found here.

There are also some great tips on how to accept a compliment gracefully here.

National Compliment Day

In honor of National Compliment Day on January 24th, 2016, we’ve made up some super-fun printables to make it really easy to spread the love!

Enter your email address here to get ALL 3 automatically delivered as a PDF to your email inbox!

First is an easy check-box format. They’re great for lunch boxes on test days, teacher notes, or to stick on your spouse’s car steering wheel. It’s a quick and easy way to share your compliments with those in your life who matter the most!

Get 3 free Compliment Day Printables from Smart Kids 101!

Next is a flyer format. Print some out, cut on the dotted lines and post them on community message boards or telephone poles. Instant compliments for everyone!

Get 3 free Compliment Day Printables from Smart Kids 101!

Finally, we have a more personal touch with a fill-in-the-blank note. Print this out and write something specific for your recipients. It’s also great for teaching kids how to brighten someone else’s day with a compliment. Print out a few and help them practice writing compliments for a few of their friends or relatives.

Get 3 free Compliment Day Printables from Smart Kids 101!

So, friend, here’s to you!

Leonardo Dicaprio (as Gatsby) raises a glass to you

You are totally rocking this compliment thing. Now go out there and make the world a happier place like you always do!

READ NEXT: 5 Quick Steps to Introduce Yourself Properly 

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About Aubrey Hunt
Before hopping on the crazy ride we call motherhood, I studied engineering and taught math and science to middle and high school students. Now, perhaps like you, I fill my days singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider and praying my preschooler will eat a vegetable — any vegetable!

2 thoughts on “How to Give and Receive a Compliment Like a Pro”

  1. Thanks for the tip to my article 64 Positive Things to Say to Kids, and I love this post! I’ve had a few of those moments, myself where someone’s kind grocery store comment makes me shift perspective and suddenly realize that maybe things are actually ok. Big thanks to all those mystery compliment-giving-people!

    All my best,

    1. Aubrey Hunt says:

      Alissa! Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I’m so glad you loved the post. Aren’t those mystery compliment-giving-people the best? It’s amazing how much it can change my mood! And look, now you’ve done it, too — just by stopping by. 🙂

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