Do you tell your kids they're special/great/nice/pretty, etc?

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I always used to say to my daughter, "You're pretty, you're smart, and you have a good heart."

Right now my friend's daughter is visiting her grandmother in another state. And the grandmother sent my friend and email and among other things she said this regarding raising children:
You know, one thing I've come to believe, you can't do much more than keep the kids alive, how they end up isn't as much in your control as you'd like. There's way too much anxiety related to wanting your kids to be the success you expect them to be and sometimes they do more than you could have imagined but you still had no control over what they decide to do. I would just say, don't enable too much of a sense of entitlement.
FJ needs to get a sense of "you're not so special, learn to deal with life"
or else your life becomes a hell
FJ is 11 years old. I think that's a pretty horrible thing to think-- that you should tell a child they're not special.


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I think it's a balance. Of course I tell my kids that they are wonderful and special TO ME. But I also agree with your friend that I don't want my kids to feel more "special" than everyone else, so I also teach them that other peoples' feelings matter, that they have obligations to others, and that they aren't perfect and can and should learn from their mistakes. I wouldn't use phrases like "you're not special" because I think little ones can misunderstand that - I think you show the child an example of consideration for others and helping others and talk to them about that and it stops them from feeling entitled. You need to build your child up, in my opinion, because if they don't feel loved and feel good about themselves, they can't see the good in others to love or help them.

Because my kids are Black, I also feel I have to work extra-hard to make them like themselves because my eldest has already started making comments that show he thinks "white skin is better" and so on... so I definitely tell him how beautiful his skin and hair are and how he should be proud of his history and so on, but I also tell him that all people are created equal, are children of God and that we need to be respectful of everyone around us.
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Yeah, I'd tell my daughter she was special, but that everyone is special in there way. Special, but not better than anyone else.
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Obamacare is not a blueprint for socialism. You're thinking of the New Testament. ~~ John Fugelsang



I don't say it in a just because or a praising sort of way. I often have conversations, normally when they are or have not been as successful as possible telling them they could be greater. Especially the last few years with the younger one.
If he applied himself... he could do anything.
If he practiced more... he had the talent to be the best.
If he took advantage and cared about this or that a bit more... he would have such a positive reaction from others.

I use them as motivational prompts.
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I tell my children they're smart. I tell them they're pretty. I tell them they have beautiful hair, that they're good at math, that they draw well, whatever compliment applies at the moment.

If they mention a comparison to someone else, whether they think that person does better, or worse than they, I explain that everybody is good at something, but not necessarily everything. You may be better at reading, (insert other name) may not be a great reader, but may be better at math.

I think its important for their parents to compliment them and bring up their self worth. I don't think it makes kids feel superior, but if your parents don't make a big deal about you, who will?

I don't treat my children like royalty, but I want them to know they make me proud.


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I disagree w/ grandma. I think the things you say to your kids can make a world of difference in how they turn out.

Of course I tel my kids they're great!
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I don't have children, but I did do it with the kids I was a nanny for. I think there's a difference between doing it until a kid is entitled and doing it when they deserve it.

Such as, they draw a picture. I would say to the 2 year old girl: "Oh my! You're such an artist! You are so good at drawing!"

Do I think what I did was wrong? No. There is nothing wrong with encouraging them and praising them for doing good things. She liked to spin around in circles while singing mumbo-jumbo and I always told her she was a good dancer and an amazing singer. She would get excited and would always sing for me, which I thought was hilarious because she was making words up.

I don't think there's anything wrong with telling children they're beautiful or smart or worthy of being treated well. Everyone deserves that. I think people focus too much on the negative things of children. I believe that focusing on the positive brings the best out of them.

And what's wrong with a child feeling confident anyway?! I would rather raise a confident adult than one who had a low self-esteem.
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edited

simple answer: yes

Last edited by frau; 07-19-2012 at 02:15 PM.
I unapologetically tell my kids this every day. My parents NEVER told me these things as they were very humble and were trying to raise their kids to be. I had super low self esteem and I was quite shy. I still have social anxiety issues but my self esteem is much better now. I've tried a different approach with my kids. They have excellent self esteem and are self assured leaders but they are also very humble and respectful of others. They get along with everyone. I only worry about my daughter though because she is super shy like me. But so far she doesn't have any of my other childhood issues.

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Because my kids are Black, I also feel I have to work extra-hard to make them like themselves because my eldest has already started making comments that show he thinks "white skin is better" and so on... so I definitely tell him how beautiful his skin and hair are and how he should be proud of his history and so on, but I also tell him that all people are created equal, are children of God and that we need to be respectful of everyone around us.
Originally Posted by Amneris
I agree with your whole post, especially this. My daughter is becoming really sensitive about her hair not being long like the other girls, and the fact that it grows outward more than down.
Other kids at school have been calling her names, like "poofy head" which is terrible for a four year old. She cries when I try to style her hair without ponytails. It makes me sad for her, so I always tell her how beautiful her hair is (along with other parts of her personality/person).
Funnily enough, she is approached so often by adults saying how beautiful her hair is. Kids are so mean. Sorry for the semi-side rant.
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I kind of agree. I grew up feeling very entitled with ad inflate sense of myself but with low self etseem.

I was always bullied and never worked hard in school. I honestly believed what my parents told me that I was Better than them and they teased me because they were jealous.

Add to that that I was a very sick teenager and always got special treatment an attention. Anything bad thy happened to me was always someone else's fault.

As an adult I've worked hard to get out of this mentality unfortunately my brother is still very much stuck with an inflated ego and thinks the reason he is successful isnt because everyone is stupid.

I think kids need to have to confidence to be okay with making mistakes an failing, that's its not the end of the world if someone doesn't like them or is a jerk. They should feel special and pretty but not at the expense of anyone else. It is about balance.

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Last edited by Nej; 07-19-2012 at 02:43 PM.
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Last edited by Yom; 07-19-2012 at 04:29 PM.
I've heard it takes 15 positive comments to make up for 1 negative comment.

I think kids need to hear encouraging comments at home.
I praise my kids, but I don't lie to them. For example, my dd loves to sing - but lets just say that American Idol is not in her future. I'm not going to lie to her and tell her what a great singer she is, but I do tell her that I really enjoy hearing her sing, which is true.

I try to find an honest compliment rather than just throwing out a 'that's great!' And if it's something that she can get better at with practice I'll tell her to keep working on it. The pride she feels when she finally does something she's been trying to do is great. I get super excited right along with her, and I think that's way better that me just telling her it was great from the start.
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Wow, Grandma sounds a bit grouchy in her e mail. Makes me appreciate my kids grandparents a bit more than I already do.

Yes I always have/ will tell my four boys they are special in many ways. I feel that parents need to praise their children, and also let them know when they could study more or practiced more for doing work in school, sports, or other things that they do. I feel it helps them set goals and possibly strive to do better at something they could actually have done a better job at. I feel that there is a big difference in giving a kid a complement on something they do to making them feel that they are better than others. Giving honest complements is not going to feed their head and make them have a Superior complex.
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I absolutely do! For all the reasons others have already said, plus, my DD has special needs. Because of that, she's been told by FAR too many people who should know better what she is and isn't capable of. I feel that one of my jobs as her mother is to let her know that she's only incapable of doing something if she thinks she is, and that she is exceptional (that's actually what our school district calls the 'special education' program; I think it's awesome!)!
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I don't have kids, but I do wish my mom said this to me more often because now I have pretty low self esteem. My mom had six kids so I think she raised us with that same "just keep them alive attitude, it's good enough." I think as a result most of us, except maybe the youngest, have problems with self esteem. I know at least two of my siblings have been on anti-depressants.
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I don't have kids but my sister has two young boys and one on the way. I tell them how awesome I think they are. I think it's important to love a child. And to make them feel good and comfortable in their own skin. I had a girlfriend that, when I stayed with her and her family, complained that I was spoiling her nephew (a newborn) by holding him so much and talking to him too much. Wtf?!? How is that possible? A child gets enough negative from the outside in school that I think it's important to build them up early to be able to handle.

I personally have self-extreme issues. Based mostly on the idea that my parents liked that I was ALWAYS good. Perfectionism is a killer. [/end side rant]

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I had low self-esteem for as long as I could remember mainly because my parents did not do this enough when I was a child. It wouldn't take much for them to tell me how screwed up I was, though. I would have had a much easier time dealing with bullies and other negativity in the outside world if I had confidence and pride instilled in me.
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I don't remember my folks telling me I was awesome, but I do remember them telling me they loved me and hugging me, holding my hand, etc. I also remember them encouraging me when I doubted myself and my abilities. They also were always supportive when I wanted to try something new.

I've always been a very self-assured person and I'm pretty sure it's all thanks to my parents and how they parented me.
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