My daughter doesn’t know how to accept compliments. She shies away when we tell her she’s brilliant or pretty. Even when we’re shooting hoops in the backyard and I praise her shots, she doesn’t say, “Thanks, dad.” Without criticizing her, how can we get her to accept compliments?
–S.C., Portland, OR
Accepting compliments graciously is about having good self-esteem. It is one of THE golden rules of conversation étiquette.
In our cynical society, children too often and too easily mimic adults’ stinging backhanded compliments with each other — making them leery of accepting any praise.
Is he being facetious teasing me because I’m neither pretty nor brilliant? The kids at school certain don’t think I am either. Taper and craft your compliments to make them sound more serious and sincere by saying, “I really like your moves with the ball on the court, keep practicing. I’m here for you, Stella, whenever you want to shoot some hoops.”
It’s girls dumbing themselves down to degrade themselves. The theory is that a girl has to be self-depricatintg by shying away from undeserved compliments. She thinks it makes her appear less vain.
Teach your daughter not to be self-depricating by ALWAYS responding to a compliment and praise with a simple ‘thank you’ — and to expect her gracious benefactor to say ‘you’re welcome’ in return.
To make a point, we exaggerate, “OMG, you’re such a great basketball player, you’re really fantastic.” When in fact the girls she plays with are just as good or better. So when you call her brilliant or pretty, she takes it with a grain of salt. Be more specific: That dress looks really nice on you. You’re a good shot. Mom says you aced your math test, congratulations!
Help her to find the habit of saying ‘thank you’ and expecting a you’re welcome in return to help her through the minefields of social nuances. And remember the older people in her life are role models for her behavior. Even if you don’t think you look good in that special occasion grey flannel suit, don’t even think of saying that it makes you look fat.
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Accepting A Compliment