Yesterday I was running into Whole Foods to get a Green Dream (sounds so much better than kale smoothie) and noticed a young woman in the parking lot wearing this awesome purple dress and really cool purple shoes. Without a moment’s hesitation I said to her, “Girl… you are totally rocking that purple outfit today!”

The guy she was with said, “I’m so glad you said that!”

I was thinking that probably he had already told her the same thing and she didn’t believe him, so I asked, “Why are you so glad I said that?”

He went on to explain that she had, just moments earlier, commented to him how much she liked another woman’s cardigan sweater and the boyfriend had said to her, “Well, why don’t you tell her that?” But she told him she’d feel silly and that the other woman would probably think she was weird for saying something.

Then the boyfriend turned the tables and complimented me by saying, “I noticed your Red Sox hat and I gotta tell you that I’m a Yankees fan… but today I’m a big fan of one particular Red Sox fan!”

The whole encounter took less than five minutes but it left me with such a good feeling and it didn’t cost me anything!

When it comes to teen girls however, it’s important that when we offer compliments, we are focusing more on their character and achievements than on their appearance.

Even if we are complimenting someone’s appearance, we can still word it in a way that honors and recognizes a quality of the person and not just their looks as in this cartoon below.

Here are some examples that you can use that focus more on character when complimenting a girl instead of on her appearance: kind, brave, creative, funny, smart, talented, strong.

These are some other ways to offer a compliment:

The way people are:
“You’re a good friend.”
“You’re a great helper.”

The way people behave:

“I like the way you stood up for that kid. That took guts.”
“You are a real team player. I noticed how you high fived everyone on the team.”

The way people look:

“I like your glasses. They make you look cool.”
“I love the way you put an outfit together.”

Most importantly, we must really try to eliminate the word “perfect” from our vocabulary when we offer praise. Saying, “Oh honey… you were perfect out there on the ice today” is not helpful or constructive, but instead, sets a child up for striving for perfection. Perfection is unattainable and just adds more stress as our kids aim to please to get the recognition of parents, teachers and coaches. Instead, be specific with your praise such as, “Wow. You really landed your jumps and all your practice and hard work really paid off today.”

Go ahead. Make someone’s day. It will make your own day too!

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