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The Summit Counseling Center
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Body Appreciation and How to Compliment Others

Megan Barfield

People applaud. Human hands clapping ovation. Flat design, business concept.How do we show our appreciation for our children? We may show up to support them at their softball games and chorus recitals, give hugs and pats on the back after they’ve had a long day, or express words of affirmation that we are proud of them and love them. Each of these avenues for showing our children that we see them are great ways to increase their self-worth and confidence, encourage strong relationships with friends and family, and increase connection.

In affirming our children and teens with compliments, we sometimes fall prey to the trap of physical compliments that can seem positive at first glance. Compliments like “You look so slim in that outfit!” and “That looks so slimming on you!” feel positive. However, we can reform our compliments to be more body positive and focused on the characteristics our adolescents hold instead of their appearance.

You are so brave. You seem so happy. This paper sounds great, you have a way with words. Your progress is amazing. I love seeing your motivation and dedication.

The relationship we have with our bodies can be a complicated one, filled with appreciation for what it can do and disappointment or confusion when comparing to others’ shapes and sizes. Focusing on a person’s appearance is common: we easily compliment what we can see. Someone’s appearance, shape, and size is only one small part of them. Being intentional and taking an extra moment to recognize your adolescent’s efforts and strengths encourages them to focus on these as well.

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