Compliments and appreciations bring us closer together. Finding ways to compliment your children can be a very valuable parenting tool. So often we are focused on what our children have done wrong. This week focus on what your children have done right and give them an appropriate compliment. "I appreciate how quickly you get dressed and ready for school." "I notice how kindly you cared for Anna when she felt sad, I bet it helped her feel better." "Thank you for setting the table." You will be amazed how this simple act will change the atmosphere in your home.
It is also important for children to learn how to give compliments. Siblings don’t have any trouble bickering and putting each other down, but they struggle with the idea of appreciating each other? Maybe it all boils down to training. Giving and receiving compliments is a skill that needs to be taught and practiced. Family meetings provide that opportunity.
Begin every family meeting by having each person give every other member of the family a compliment. This may be awkward at first if the children have the habit of name-calling. If this is the case, spend some time discussing the kinds of things they could look for to compliment one another about. Parents can model this behavior by beginning with compliments for each member of the family. Also, if you see something nice going on between the children, remind them to remember it for a compliment. You might even suggest that they write it on the family meeting agenda so they will remember—and their sibling can enjoy seeing it as well as hearing it.
Hearing my kids be mean to each other was so difficult for me, so I was thrilled that the hurtful comments were reduced when we held regular family meetings starting with compliments. However, one summer we got so busy that I did not follow my own advice to not let anything interfere with regular family meetings. Bickering and discipline hassles increased tremendously. The kids started insulting one another more often. Finally, I called for a family meeting. The kids had been so mean to each other that I thought they would have difficulty giving one another compliments. However, their years of training came back to them and they gave each other very nice compliments. As we continued regular family meetings the insults decreased significantly, as did bickering and discipline hassles.
Following is an excerpt from the Family Meeting Album:
You can create a positive atmosphere in your family when everyone learns to look for the good in each other and to verbalize positive comments. Please don’t expect perfection. Some sibling squabbling is normal. However, when children (and parents) learn to give and receive compliments, negative tension is reduced considerably. Of course, a positive atmosphere is increased even more when families have regular family meetings to find solutions to problems.
Each component of the agenda is important. Start with compliments for several reasons:
- Compliments create a positive atmosphere.
- Children learn to be “good finders” when they look for and verbalize the things they appreciate about family members.
- Children usually fight less when they participate in regular family meetings beginning with compliments.
- It is important to have each member of the family give a compliment to every other member of the family so everyone feels a sense of belonging and significance.
Remember that compliments may sound awkward in the beginning. They get better with practice. You will create a positive atmosphere in your family when everyone learns to look for the good in each other and to verbalize positive comments. Please don’t expect perfection. Some sibling squabbling is normal. However, when children (and parents) learn to give and receive compliments, negative tension is reduced considerably. Of course, a positive atmosphere is increased even more when families have regular family meetings to find solutions to problems.
Family Meeting Compliment Activity:
- Place blank compliment sheets on the refrigerator (or another spot) where everyone can write down compliments for others each day. (Young children can dictate their compliments to older members of the family.)
- When you see someone that deserves a compliment, write it down, or ask a child who also observed something someone else did, "Would you like to write that on our compliment sheet?" Once children develop the habit of noticing compliments, they won’t need reminders.
- At the beginning of each family meeting, family members can read their compliments.
- Ask for any verbal compliments that were not written down.
- Make sure every family member receives at least one compliment.
- Place this compliment sheet in the family meeting binder, and place another blank sheet on the refrigerator to be filled out during the week.