What to Do When Someone Compliments Your Kids (When You Yourself Can’t Take a Compliment)

PSA: Imposter Syndrome in parenting is real. You have no idea what you’re doing. But surely everybody else does, because they read the book/attended the seminar/know what mindfulness is. Still, your knee-jerk tendency to deflect praise may actually be a problem for your kids. If they hear you denying their attributes or downplaying their achievements, you’ll feel awful and they’ll feel worse. See also: Your intention to model good self-esteem. Here’s a suggestion: The next time someone says, “My goodness, he’s so bright!” maybe don’t respond with, “Oh yeah, but he never stops talking” while making the “yapping” signal with your hand. Here are four more negative reactions to retire—and ideas for what to say instead.

5 Things You Need to Stop Saying When Someone Compliments You

adorable little girl and her mom

When Someone Says “she’s So Cute!”

Don’t say: Ah, but she’s such a little monster when it comes to sleeping/sharing/getting her way. 

Try this instead: Move the conversation away from her looks and toward something she controls. Say: “Thank you! She’s such a good kid. And funny too. You have to see her Beyoncé impression.”

little boy playing soccer

When Someone Says “he’s Such A Good Artist/drummer/soccer Player.”

Don’t say: He gets it from his dad. I’m a tone-deaf klutz!

Try this instead: Praise his effort. Say: “Aw, thanks! He’s been practicing a lot lately. He’ll be so glad to hear you noticed his hard work paying off.”

little boy sharing dessert with his baby sister

When Someone Says “your Kids Get Along So Well.”

Don’t say: Not at home they don’t! Last night she clawed him and drew blood. 

Try this instead: Offer up an entertaining or interesting detail. Say: “Thank you! He just started reading to her. It’s the sweetest thing.”

young boy eating sushi with chopsticks

When Someone Says “he’s So Well Behaved At A Restaurant! My Son Could Never Sit Still That Long.”

Don’t say: Anything to one-up the complaint. This is not a competition in parenting pain. 

Try this instead: Compliment the compliment. As in: “Thank you for saying my son has good manners. That’s about the nicest thing you could say to a mom!”