The most common mistake parents or adults make is to assume that children don’t need to be complimented simply because they are children Many times children come to us asking questions about themselves, which we brush aside but sometimes they just want to hear what we have to say and it might mean a lot to them. According to psychologists, one of the most basic needs of every child is the need for their parents’ or guardians’ approval. This is very important to boost their self-esteem, self-worth, and even their identity as they grow up. It is possible for parents or guardians to attach little importance to paying attention to the emotional and psychological needs of children, as long as they are doing the important things such as paying school fees, providing the necessities and taking care of them generally. However, experts say that from the children’s perspective, these things might not necessarily matter to them because they believe you are doing what you are supposed to do to them. What matters to them is giving them your attention and listening to them. Most importantly, not complimenting them when they do something good can really dent their confidence and effort. A simple statement like ‘good job’ or ‘that is great’ when they do something well can go a long way in uplifting their morale and spirit. There are moments when children present something they’ve done to us, expecting us to say something nice to them but we don’t, either because we are very busy or did not pay attention to the details. Some kids naturally love attention and they will need your approval almost on everything. Experts say attention is like currency for kids and many times they will even act up in a smart way just to get your attention. If you don’t give it to them, they will repeat the same action until they catch your attention. Parents and guardians can also start feeling like the attention-hungry children are getting into their space. They resort to scaring them off or brushing their questions aside and this can also quietly dent their inner being. This most applies to fathers who mostly feel that providing is enough to show a child how much they love them. Well, bad news! Providing for them is not enough. Why complimenting children is important Like adults, children also want to be told that they are doing a good job when they are putting in their best and to acknowledge how well-behaved they are when they are intentionally behaving. Once you point out those good behaviours and acknowledge them, it will boost their self-esteem and resilience and they will try to do even better. Self-esteem is essential to building their resilience because when your children know that they matter and that they are valued, they are more likely to deal with stressful situations in life in a more positive way. This can have a long-term impact on their lives. Parents and guardians or adults in general should understand that complimenting in itself is not enough but you have to do it the right way. The tone and words used can make or break it for them. Be sensitive to what they are sensitive about, don’t compliment them for a job well done and in the same moment add ‘but you have to do better than this.’ Compliment them and stop it there and find the right moment to encourage them to do even better. It is important to not miss the good moments when you are supposed to compliment them because missing those times can really dampen their mood. Imagine if you miss two or three good moments? This might weigh them down heavily. Being specific and timely can really be important, which means that you must catch them in those moments they expect you to come through. Do it there and then instead of waiting for tomorrow. They might just be in a different mood then. “I am really happy with how you have improved at school”, this is a statement you can say when they are from school or heading there in the morning, when they are still in the school mood. Don’t wait for the weekend when their minds are off school. When you are specific in your compliments, not only does it encourage them to behave even better, they will put in an extra effort to improve performance. While at it, don’t act like the ‘tough parent’, smile and show them that you are genuinely happy for them. Finally, it is important to break your own barriers and be frank in appreciating them. Parents or guardians have indirect ways of appreciating children because they believe it will make them more complacent. On the contrary, experts say being intentional or deliberate in appreciating children actually urges them on, rather than making them lax. Give it a shot and you will be amazed how it will transform their lives and create a stronger bond with them.