Little Miss Manners

by Becky on April 5, 2012

in Parenting

So my middle daughter was practicing her manners this morning, complimenting her dad on the oatmeal he had made for breakfast. He does indeed make oatmeal extraordinaire—just the right amounts of this and that, so that the final product has the perfect flavor and texture (an important trait in a bowl of oatmeal). But what struck me was the fact that she made a point of thanking the oatmeal chef.

Gratitude for Honey on Oatmeal

Does articulating a compliment—even quite simply—make the giver of it happier? I absolutely think so.

Gratitude for Whipped Cream on Oatmeal

The evidence: this daughter gives compliments more readily and handily than almost anyone I know, and she is likewise happier most of the time than just about anyone I know. I pointed this out to her, and the very pleased smile that instantly lit up her face told me she logs compliments as well as she gives them. Everyone deserves to feel special—even the makers of the day’s highly acceptable oatmeal and the givers of heartfelt thanks.

Below are ten ways to compliment anyone—especially your teen. To be completely successful, a compliment should be sincere and specific. Give one. Watch the beneficiary of it begin to smile as her sun comes out.

Also below is the recipe for perfect oatmeal, which takes a long time to digest, which, according to nutrition and diet gurus, is a function of its low glycemic index, which is a desirable thing in a breakfast food.

The Eleven O’Clock Adjust-for-context Compliment Roster
What a great/amazing/fantastic job you did on (fill in the blank).
Your hard work/dedication/persistence is truly admirable, and it paid off.
I love your attitude; it’s inspiring.
I never knew someone could (fill in the blank) like that. You’ve educated me.
Thank you for being kind.
Do you have any idea how much (fill in the blank) meant to me? Thank you!
Wow, this is so completely cool/delicious/beautifully conceived! Nice work.
Hey, what you did/said just now was kind/mature/unselfish. Nicely handled!
You have such a gift for (fill in the blank)!
I appreciate your help; I couldn’t have done that without you!

Gratitude for Cup Measures to scoop out Oatmeal in the right proportions

2-1 Ratio Oatmeal
For one person: ¾ c oatmeal, 1 ½ c water, plus a pinch of salt (roughly the size of a dime).

Gratitude for Oatmeal

Bring water to boil. Add salt. Add oats. Lower heat to simmer for roughly 5 minutes (or until oats have reached desired consistency). Eat.

Gratitude for Dad's Great Oatmeal

Be sure to compliment the maker of the oats. If that was you, give yourself a humble pat on the back for your culinary efforts.

For more in-depth ideas about how to give praise, see http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/2011/04/, where Gretchen Rubin, New York Times best-selling author and happiness seeker talks about how to spread it around. These are great ideas that can be quickly transposed to conversations with compliment-deserving teens!

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