The 5 worst compliments you can give to your kids

Praising children is good for their self-esteem, but these 5 praises may be hurting them.

The 5 worst compliments you can give to your kids

Praising children is good for their self-esteem, but these 5 praises may be hurting them.
  • Praising children encourages them, but there's a right way and a wrong way of giving compliments. While some forms of praise help develop your child's self-esteem, others can turn a child into an arrogant, insecure person with a great fear of failure.

  • Check out some of the worst ways to praise your child, and how they can hurt rather than help:

  • 1. "You are the most beautiful child there is"

  • No matter what label you use to praise your children (most beautiful, smartest, best, etc), comparing them to other children will create a deep competitive nature, and a need to always outdo others. Such people are usually arrogant. They have a hard time celebrating other's successes, and are jealous when they come across someone who may be considered "better."

  • 2. "Congratulations, congratulations and congratulations"

  • The word is written three times, because it represents excess. Parents who congratulate a child over everything they've done create a need for constant recognition in the child. When his or her work or achievements are not recognized, it's extremely frustrating, and can make him feel angry or defeated.

  • 3. Artificial praise

  • Many parents praise children half-heartedly - sometimes not even knowing what it is they are complimenting. For example, a child comes with a drawing, and a parent who's busy with other things says, "Beautiful," but doesn't actually look at the drawing. Children aren't stupid. They realize when praise is not from the heart.

  • 4. Malicious praise

  • Another tactic commonly used by parents is to sneak teaching into praise. For example, "You are such a sweet girl, so don't fight with your brother." These types of phrases tend to be manipulative, as a child feels they must follow the "rule" that goes along with them. Praise should be spontaneous, and come when deserved.

  • 5. "You're so clever"

  • This type of praise labels your child. When you constantly tell your little girl she's intelligent, it might imply she must always be intelligent. She feels she must never fail from being intelligent. She worries about taking risks, because the chance of failure is greater. Failure means she would lose her label of intelligence, which has become her identity. Rather than placing a label, try instead to praise effort. For example, when your child passes a test, say, "Wow! You studied so hard for that score. Congratulations!"

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  • Experts point out that many parents praise without noticing. Other parents praise in order to raise self-esteem, or cheer their child up. Help your child's self-esteem by praising them in a way that's constructive, rather than destructive.

  • This article was adapted and translated from the original "Os 5 piores elogios que você pode dar ao seu filho," which was published on

Marcia Denardi is a Brazilian Journalist and her biggest professional goal is to bring information to strengthen families. The job she loves most is to be a mother.


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