Compliments that matter

The best part of a day at work with pre-schoolers for me is the beginning of the day when the children first walk through the classroom doors. For most children this is their first experience on their own and the sense of independence that they carry with them shows. Some children arrive with a toy from the comfort of their home and are a bit reluctant to enter. Others come rushing into the classroom with open arms, and barely wave goodbye to their parents. When I see each child Individually enter,my face lights up. I look at each child and greet them with enthusiasm. I love getting down to the childs level and saying “good morning, it’s so nice to see you today, I’m so excited that you are here!”

In the past, I found myself greeting each child with a compliment towards how cute their outfits were. I mean, some children would arrive with the most adorable rain boots and matching jackets. Some children would have on the coolest pleather jacket or the latest runners that light up. I couldn’t help myself and I would say excitedly, “Did you get new shoes? Those shoes are pretty cool!” Whoever was wearing the new shoes would usually dash into the classroom with so much pride and
start to show off their shoes to fellow class-mates. Sometimes a child would over-hear me complement one child’s piece of clothing and ask me, “Mrs. Jamie, do you like my dress? And then another, “Mrs. Jamie, how about me, what about my shirt with the princess on it?” There I was, with a crowd of children surrounding me, waiting for me to compliment something about their outfits. And there I was, individually telling each child how much I loved whatever it was.

Once I became aware that I was complimenting the children on their materialistic possessions, I made a conscious effort to stop. My intentions were never to emphasize how cool it is to have the latest shoes that light up. However, that’s exactly the impression that I was leaving with them. Each and every time I would point out a piece of the child’s cute, adorable or stylish clothing I was placing value on materialism. I no longer wanted to emphasize that what they have, is more important than who they are.

Now if a child asks me if I like their shirt, my response sounds something like this: ” Do you know what I love about your shirt? I love that the colour of it is so bright and it shines just like you! Your shirt reminds me of the star that you are! Then I’ll put up my hand and the child goes in for a happy high-five. And if I’m ever surrounded by children asking me if I like their shirts, coats or runners I respond with, ” aren’t we all so lucky to have a jacket to keep us warm? Or shoes on our feet so we can run around? We are so blessed!”

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4 thoughts on “Compliments that matter

  1. Yes, people are always telling my daughter (and son) how pretty she is and how beautiful she looks. It’s nice to get the compliments, but I always add that she’s also smart and strong. I don’t want her to just focus on her out beauty 🙂

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