Why Praising Our Kids is So Important

Posted October 24, 2008 by

My last blog posting included a list of “15 Things I Want To Do With My Son Before He Is 16”. So, as you can guess, I am a member of that breed known as Listmakers. The story I want to share with you in this posting has stayed in my computer desktop-diary for a few years. But it’s worth sharing, I’ve been told. It makes the point about how important it is to praise our children, and also about how closely our children are listening to us, always.

One night, I was working as the flight attendant on a short flight and had a few spare moments sitting in my jumpseat. My son’s birthday was coming up — I think it was his 11th — and I decided to very quickly use the back of the flight manifest to make a list of “The Top 20 Things I Like About You.” I planned on putting it inside his birthday card. I ended up with 22 things (Number 22: “Because you’re MY kid!”) before I had to unbuckle and get up and go to work! I didn’t get it typed up in time to put in his birthday card. Instead, I made it into an email. (I figured it would be easier for him to refer back to it when he needed a boost, since he is on the computer so often and, like a typical boy, unlikely to hold on to some ephemeral piece of paper.) I didn’t write any little intro, just emailed it to him and never mentioned it again. I was never really sure he even got it. I got busy with things and, truly, did not think of it again. He didn’t mention it, either. Then one night, a couple of months after that flight, the three of us were sitting in our living room eating dinner. You have to understand that my son is a fabulous eater, a real joy to feed; he will try anything and loves everything, and even got a waiter to take him into the kitchen once so he could see his dessert before ordering! And so, of course, that night he was eating the fairly exotic dish my husband had prepared with absolute gusto. I turned to him and said, “It is such a pleasure to eat with you. You really enjoy your food.”

And my son turned to me quietly and said, “I know, Mom. That was Number Five.”


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  1. Louise Sanborn Report

    Toni, I just love this idea. Since I read your post, I’ve started saying things to my nearly 6-year-old like, “You know something I really like about you? You like to try new food,” or “You get really excited about dinosaurs — I love how you’ve learned so much about them.” (Or whatever the case may be.) I tell you, he positively shines with pleasure to hear these compliments. I’m writing up a list to hand to him on his birthday in January, too. Thanks so much for this reminder!

  2. Michelle Prince (Edit) Report

    I love this! Hey, we all need to hear positive things and nothing makes my 13 year old son shine more than words of acknowledgement and praise. Thanks for the great idea. I’m starting my list today!

  3. TR (Edit) Report

    I think this is an excellent idea. I need to do one for my son who is only six. I think since he is not yet into emails I could print it for him and put in a scrap book where he keeps his favorite things. I think also adults needs these. Maybe 10 thing you like about your spouse or better yet 10 things you like about yourself. It will be an eye opener trying to see if you can come with 10 thingd nice to say.

  4. Ilene (Edit) Report

    I know my kids “eat it up” when I shower compliments, which really is too few and far between. Your idea of sending an e-mail is great to get around the hectic nature of life today. Since kids are on the computer so much, it’s very wise to use it in this way.

  5. Paula Doolittle (Edit) Report

    I love the idea “The Top Twenty Things I Like about
    You”. What an excellent way to let your child know
    how special they are to you. I think that parents
    get into the daily grind of making a living or the
    daily activities and forget to take that special
    moment to let their children know how they feel. I
    think the list is a great way to let any love one
    know how special they are to you.



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