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Help accepting compliments on DD


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#1 Daffy2016

Posted 23 September 2019 - 11:50 AM

So I think this might be in the realm of first world problems and/or it’s time for some therapy, but anyway...

I grew up in a very reserved family and went to a school where ‘being up yourself’ was a major crime - accepting a compliment rather than responding by putting yourself down was grounds for serious bullying and exclusion.

While I’ve got better at accepting compliments for myself, I’m really bad at doing it when people comment about DD to me. She’s only two but I’m concerned about her starting to understand these exchanges.

I think part of it is I don’t want to be seen as one of those smug nightmare parents so maybe I go too far the other way? So if someone mentions how DD has really good language, I find myself brushing it off with something like ‘oh, she never stops talking, it’s a nightmare’. Which sounds really mean now I write it down, but hopefully doesn’t sound like that in my delivery!

Is it okay to just say thank you and move on? Or is that boasting and horrible? I know this is massively overthinking but it’s such an ingrained response in me for almost everything that I don’t realise I’m doing it until later.

#2 Kallie88

Posted 23 September 2019 - 11:52 AM

I get it, I just stick to thank you and move on coz otherwise i feel I'll put my foot in it :)

#3 Tokra

Posted 23 September 2019 - 11:58 AM

It is absolutely acceptable to just say thank you and move on. That is exactly what you "should" be doing.

I can understand where you are coming from. For many years I had trouble accepting gifts. I was always embarrassed and say "you didn't have to do that" and try to stop people from doing it in the first place etc.

I found out that it was because I didn't believe I was worthy of gifts. But now I have learnt to say "thank you" and move on.

#4 22Fruitmincepies

Posted 23 September 2019 - 12:00 PM

I say “yes, she seems to really enjoy talking” (or whatever it is). Keep it as a factual thing.

#5 born.a.girl

Posted 23 September 2019 - 12:07 PM

My daughter has stunning deep auburn hair, and when a toddler just naturally curled into ringlets that looked amazing.

Be glad she's two. By the time she's four, she'll be able to respond 'everyone says that' one day to a compliment.

Ask me how I know.


(I must admit every single person just about, commented, so she had heard it a thousand times by then. I did have to do a little work on the social graces, though.)

#6 JomoMum

Posted 23 September 2019 - 12:19 PM

View Post22Fruitmincepies, on 23 September 2019 - 12:00 PM, said:

I say “yes, she seems to really enjoy talking” (or whatever it is). Keep it as a factual thing.

This is how I probably handle it too.

I am mindful of the words that DS is hearing spoken about him and I don’t want him to hear me speaking down about him.

I also tend to over think things a lot. I try to think about how I would expect the other person to respond and whether I would find that boastful or not.

#7 jayskette

Posted 23 September 2019 - 12:21 PM

Just smile and say thank you. Hard to start but incredibly easy to remember and implement.

#8 gracie1978

Posted 23 September 2019 - 12:22 PM

I asked DS to involve a younger child in his game last night, we were at a kid friendly restaurant.

When the other parent praised him for being kind, he said I'm not really my Mum makes me...

Might have to just teach him to say thank you as well.

#9 Fizgig

Posted 23 September 2019 - 12:35 PM

A simple thank you or an acknowledgement is fine (she sure is!). It can be really hard for people to accept compliments. I remember realising that often people would swap a compliment for a compliment. If I complimented them they would then compliment me back. I always hated that as it felt really insincere. After I realised that I taught myself to say “thank you” and move on rather than get involved in the compliment exchange program.

Also remember that sometimes people are just looking for a way to start conversation so you could just use it as a platform - “it’s really fascinating seeing them develop new skills isn’t it?”.

#10 seayork2002

Posted 23 September 2019 - 12:53 PM

IRL I just say thanks and move on but now I am thinking about compliments thanks to this thread I am thinking of some of the compliments I have heard said to kids and/or their parents over the years. Not just speaking about DS

The main ones are a person is beautiful, pretty, cute, smart IMO this is not really a compliment as such (not saying ti is an insult either though)

And if you say something to a parent about 'your child has neat writing' is that complimentary the child or are you saying to the parent 'you are doing good parenting there'

then there is complimenting one sibling over the other

'your room is always, why is your sisters not like that?'

but there are nice genuine compliments 'you wrote a really nice story' or 'doing 10 star jumps that fast is amazing!'

But saying to a person 'red looks better on you because white washes you out' is not really I guess.

Again IRL I don't remember thinking this deeply about them

#11 28 Barbary Lane

Posted 23 September 2019 - 01:28 PM

I get it OP. I was also programmed to keep my head down and not get any ideas about myself so compliments were viewed as suspicious or thinking people saying kind things were actually being sarcastic instead of genuine and friendly!

I also totally agree with PP about it sometimes being a conversation starter almost. So that’s how I kind of do it as well. So great language skills I would say “I know such a cute age”. Sort of thing. If they want to talk about how great their kid is afterwards, that’s awesome. I can spend all day talking about how great kids are!

I think the trick is that when people compliment your child, to remember it’s about your child, not you. So try not to feel embarrassed or awkward, just feel happy other people recognise and enjoy the many amazing cool things your child has as much as you do :)

#12 Cherubs

Posted 23 September 2019 - 01:50 PM

My eldest needed speech therapy, DS2 started talking in sentences very early, I just used to say ‘Yes, he does speak well!’  I didn’t take it as a compliment, I didn’t do anything apart from talk to him same as DS1, it was just his natural development, it was a fact.

Edited by Cherubs, 23 September 2019 - 01:52 PM.


#13 Mose

Posted 23 September 2019 - 02:10 PM

My DS was the same...talking up a storm before his second birthday in full coherent and easily understood sentences.  People would compliment me on it, and particularly with parents of kids the same age who were struggling with language, I would brush it off with "oh yes, he can talk for Australia, but he still can't jump".  Which was true, and I thought I was doing the right thing to note that although ahead in one area he was well behind in another.

Sadly, he was ahead in the language stakes, right?

So of course, a month into me using this response and whenever anyone told him he was clever he would look at them very seriously and say "yes, but I can't jump"!!

#14 Mooples

Posted 23 September 2019 - 02:21 PM

I’m much better at accepting compliments for my kids than I am for myself. I usually reply with a ‘thank you, I think he is pretty special/gorgeous/clever/wonderful (or whatever else fits) too’ I’m their mum and I’m super proud of them, to me it’s not boasting it’s just acknowledging how proud of them I am too.

#15 Lady Monteagle

Posted 23 September 2019 - 02:28 PM

I relate to this totally.  Just the other day someone (well-informed onlooker) told me my son was wonderfully talented.  At the time he was exercising his talent at his highest level, right in front of us.  It took SUCH AN EFFORT on my part to just swallow all the mitigating replies and put on a big smile and say, "You know what, he really really is!!"  

When this happens and DS is in earshot, or is receiving the compliment personally, I try to say things more like, "Yes, he has worked very hard."  

Back in the day when it was for advanced language ability (i.e. nothing he'd had to 'work' for), I did tend to respond with more of a grimace about how he never shuts up; but that was genuine, as it was rather trying - and remains a family feature and running joke (of the good-natured kind).  And of course I would moderate depending on where the compliment comes from.  (Who from, and also what kind of place they're coming from iykwim.)

Edited by Lady Monteagle, 23 September 2019 - 02:29 PM.


#16 Elly_Bells

Posted 23 September 2019 - 02:58 PM

Another perspective on why it's absolutely ok to say "thank you" and move on - that skill might be one that the parent desperately wishes their child could develop but is finding difficult. I think brushing it off as something annoying makes it even more frustrating for the other parent. Saying "thank you" and moving on kind of sends the message that 'yes, it is a great skill', even if you don't say it.

#17 newmumandexcited

Posted 23 September 2019 - 03:07 PM

I get this. This an extreme example but I’m from a family who could never accept a compliment and immediately had to deflect it, about all their children. It was deeply scarring really and left us all with the feeling we were never enough.

I fight with the urge to sit with the discomfort of compliments knowing that my children deserve it as do all people. It’s not about me and I don’t deserve to rob them of that.

#18 Lady Monteagle

Posted 23 September 2019 - 03:38 PM

View PostElly_Bells, on 23 September 2019 - 02:58 PM, said:

that skill might be one that the parent desperately wishes their child could develop but is finding difficult.

This is what I meant by seeing where it's coming from.  If it's someone whose child struggles with language, or someone with another chatterbox, or someone who's up for a bit of competitive parenting, my response varies accordingly.  

But the common denominator is my own difficulty in just accepting a compliment at face value in the first place!

#19 onetrick

Posted 23 September 2019 - 04:19 PM

Oh, OP. This makes so much sense to me, and I've been reading the replies so carefully!! As an adult, I'm horrible about accepting compliments (not that I get many, but I tend to put my foot in it when I do somehow!!), so of course when people compliment DS, I fumble. Badly.
He is 16 months and when people compliment his looks my fallback is 'no idea where those Gene's came from!', or they compliment his walking (walked at 8 months- just like his dad apparently!) and I usually do similarly to PP and say 'but he doesnt have many words'(especially if the person giving the compliment is a parent of a similar aged child), or else its 'it was fun at first, but he never stops!'.
I have been thinking about being mindful now that he understands some things though, so I'll take careful note of the replies in this thread!!

#20 limakilo

Posted 23 September 2019 - 04:49 PM

I think it's a really common thing that some of us learnt from being bullied about being "full of yourself" in school.
I try to think about compliments as that person wanting to say something nice to me, so why would I backhand their niceness to them.
You could try saying "That's a lovely thing to say" if you don't feel you can talk about the complimented subject?

#21 jojonbeanie

Posted 23 September 2019 - 05:01 PM

Is saying a young child has good communication skills a compliment or just an observation? I don't understand why you think you are being complimented by this. Did you do something particularly difficult to achieve this?

Just accept the comment as a positive observation, say something like 22Fruitmincepies suggestion of “Yes, she seems to really enjoy talking” , and move on politely.

Save the compliments for your child, not you, when she has done something great. And please don't put your child down in conversation just because you have insecurities.

Edited by jojonbeanie, 23 September 2019 - 05:02 PM.


#22 Jersey Caramel

Posted 23 September 2019 - 05:46 PM

I agree,  try to look at comments about your child as observations or a bid for connection/conversation rather than compliments. Trying to turn every nice comment into a negative (early talking = nightmare etc) is actually more annoying and comes across more smug (to me) than just saying, "Yes she is a good little talker". If someone gives an actual compliment (e.g. your DD was so polite/helpful/ whatever) just say, "Oh that's lovely to hear, thank you". That way you are not having to either agree or disagree with the compliment,  but thanking them for saying something nice.

#23 Daffy2016

Posted 23 September 2019 - 09:06 PM

View Postjojonbeanie, on 23 September 2019 - 05:01 PM, said:

Is saying a young child has good communication skills a compliment or just an observation? I don't understand why you think you are being complimented by this. Did you do something particularly difficult to achieve this?

Just accept the comment as a positive observation, say something like 22Fruitmincepies suggestion of “Yes, she seems to really enjoy talking” , and move on politely.

Save the compliments for your child, not you, when she has done something great. And please don't put your child down in conversation just because you have insecurities.

That’s exactly what I’m trying to avoid. Perhaps compliment is the wrong word - maybe it’s just something positive. It’s something I know I struggle with and that probably comes across badly, and that’s why I want to change it.

Thanks to everyone for your tips. I’m not great at small talk or interactions with new people so this is really helpful.

#24 eigne

Posted 24 September 2019 - 12:24 PM

If someone comments on her vocabulary I say things like “yes, she’s come a long way” or “yes, she’s getting there!” or “yes it’s lovely being able to interact with her more and more”.
I don’t really thank the person for the comment because I see it as more factual about her rather than complimentary towards her/me. If the comment was “you are raising a really kind little girl” then I would say thanks! (Note - no one has actually said this to me lol).

#25 AuntyJJJ

Posted 24 September 2019 - 12:39 PM

Just smile and say nothing. That way the instigator will project their own ideas onto you, probably positive.

My sister always puts her kids down - it comes from the Catholic and almost culturally universal habit of saying your baby is ugly so the evil eye will not steal them. Extremely common in most the world.

I have a very gifted child and never discuss her ability with anyone; if someone said OMG she's only 2 and she reads the time? I would just smile.

I try to talk about things other than the kids with my friends. It's nicer and makes for a more rounded friendship.




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