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Teaching girls the importance of learning to accept compliments

An important part of raising strong, confident girls is teaching them to accept compliments. Compliments are extremely positive because genuine compliments tell us that someone appreciates a look, skill or job we are doing. Learning how to accept compliments will make girls feel more confident in themselves. And understanding how to appreciate others appreciating you is part of being an emotionally healthy individual.

While this education is vital, it can require a great deal of practice. Below are suggestions that can help parents teach their daughters how to begin accepting compliments and appreciation from others.


Do understand how women manage compliments

Women do not take genuine compliments well because most of their training in regards to receiving compliments is to remain humble.
If you want to see a woman squirm, look her in the eye and give her a genuine compliment. She may be flattered, but she will argue with you until she convinces you that her outfit is actually old, a hand-me-down, inexpensive, or some other excuse she can find to help her feel more at ease with the attention.

Do grasp how men and women differ

While women tend to squirm after receiving a compliment, men are very different. If you give a male a compliment, he will usually light up. And if you tell him that you like his shirt, slacks or shoes, be prepared to see those articles of clothing more often. Men do not double think or take part in the “inner bully talk,” telling them to be humble, shy or modest. Rather, they completely embrace the compliment.

Do focus on the inner voice

An individual’s inner voice is developed long before we ever talk to ourselves. It is fed to us from our parents, especially our mothers. If our mothers talk negatively about their bodies, looks or clothes, children tend to personalize this. Before long, children develop an inner voice similar to their mother’s outer voice. The effects are especially dramatic for girls.

The lessons taught to girls at a very young age are to love themselves—but not too much. Believe in yourself—but never admit it out loud. However, boys are not held to this standard. In fact, most boys are raised to stand out and openly compete.

Do teach girls they have no reason to feel embarrassment

How can we possibly tell girls to love themselves, accept themselves, see their inner beauty and know their worth if we are raising them to constantly point out their own flaws when complimented, lest they make another woman feel insecure? Girls must be taught to accept words of praise without feeling any embarrassment.

Some women at the top of their careers often fumble for an excuse of how they achieved what they did, and yet keep such a beautiful presence about them. Men at the top do not act like this. They do not feel embarrassed, but rather, are quite proud of their success. Women need to do this as well.


Do not overlook the need to compliment yourself openly

When you have achieved something, be sure to tell yourself that you did a good job. Mothers should take special note to compliment themselves out loud in front of their children as much as possible. Modeling this behavior is crucial.

Do not forget to say thank you

When someone compliments you, before you can belittle the compliment, simply say, “thank you.” After you say thank you, do not rush in with how great the other person looks as well. Just let it be. Enjoy the compliment.

Do not underestimate the importance of complimenting others

Begin giving others more compliments. Focus on their attitude or skills. The most difficult compliments women receive are those pertaining to their looks, so if you give a compliment regarding a woman’s looks, be ready for her to be bashful and make excuses.

Jumping cartoon

If we are attempting to raise a generation of strong boys and girls, parents must be able to teach them that compliments are a good thing. A genuine compliment tells us that someone appreciates a look, skill or job we are doing. To deflect a compliment not only looks awkward on a person, but it puts the giver in an awkward position. Keep in mind that part of being an emotionally healthy individual is being able to appreciate others appreciating you.

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Mary Jo Rapini LPCLicensed Professional Counselor

Mary Jo Rapini is a licensed certified intimacy/sex relationship psychotherapist in private practice. Mary Jo serves as an intimacy/sex therapist for hospitals and clinics and evaluates patients for bariatric surgery in the Houston area. She wa...

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