Research has shown that the development of self-esteem starts as early as babyhood. Thus, raising our sons to grow up to be confident, kind and empathetic men means ensuring that they always feel safe, loved and accepted. While it sometimes seems easier to lavish praise on our daughters (especially for dads), our sons also need our TLC. Here are 13 everyday compliments that we can say to our boys.

photo: Kipp Jarecke Cheng

1. You are a wonderful brother. The way a boy interacts with and treats his siblings can reveal a lot about his approach to relationships with others. Boys who have positive and supportive relationships with their brother or sister are more likely to have positive and supportive relationships with other family members, friends and teachers.

2. Your adorable, quirky laugh reminds me of your dad’s (or mom’s) adorable, quirky laugh. Letting your son know that he’s a chip off the old block can remind him what you love about your spouse, and also reinforces how you’re all connected as a family.

3. I love spending time with you. There’s no better compliment than letting your son know what a pleasure it is to spend quality time with him. 

 

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4. You are kind and smart and funny and strong. Encouraging kindness, intelligence, humor and strength tells your son everything he needs to know about what your family values.

5. I can always count on you to do the right thing. Like all kids, boys will test their parents and push boundaries. Let your son know that you trust him to do the right thing.

6. I admire your good taste. Whether it’s his choice of clothing, music, food or friends, letting your son know that you approve of his choices will boost his confidence and help him make good choices throughout his life.

7. I love how creative you are. Because creative expression—whether it’s dancing, painting or music—isn’t just for girls.

8. I appreciate how helpful you are. Recognizing your son’s enthusiasm for pitching in will encourage him to develop good, collaborative habits.

9. I trust you. Start saying this to your son early and often—it’ll establish an open line of communication once they hit the rough tween and teenage years.

10. You are a great listener. Help your son learn how to treat others with respect by complimenting him when he listens. 

11. I’m so proud of you. Because kids need to hear this from their parents. Every. Day.

12. The best job I’ve ever had is being your dad (or mom). In the hustle and bustle of life, we don’t tell our sons often enough how much we love being their parents.

13. Thank you for simply being you. Letting your son know that there’s no singular way to be a boy or a man teaches him that he has the freedom and support to blaze his own, unique path in the world.

——Kipp Jarecke-Cheng

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Feature photo: iStock