21 ways to praise your kids that have nothing to do with their achievements.

These compliments have everything to do with who your kids are, not just what they've done.

I’ve always been proud of my children, just like any other parent.

When they were little, I was always praising them for good behavior and cooperation. When they started school and academics, music and sports became their main focus, and they made me proud in a number of ways with their achievements, hard work, and performance.

Photo via iStock.


But we all know that life isn’t just about what you do. The most precious moments are rarely related to merit or athletic prowess. Instead, character is built in the moments when we see a kid's integrity, compassion, and dignity grow and shine.

But whenever I look back, I realize that what makes me most proud of my kids has nothing to do with their most obvious and impressive accomplishments.

We have many report cards, team photos, trophies, and certificates of merit by which to remember all of those things.

Instead, I remember other things, like the first time they helped someone who was hurt or watching them make courageous choices. And I wish I’d been more specific about praising my kids for those things.

Photo via iStock.

Here are 21 things to compliment your kids about that involve their character, not their achievements:

  1. The first time they help someone who is hurt.
  2. Seeing them stand up for a sibling or friend.
  3. The first time they buy a gift with their own money.
  4. When a child is loving and kind to older relatives.
  5. The first time they are buried in a book.
  6. The first time they realize a song has touched their soul.
  7. When they learn to appreciate art.
  8. When they make the best of a bad day on their own.
  9. The first time a child shows compassion and puts others first.
  10. The first time a child shows mercy and gives someone another chance.
  11. The first time your child genuinely roots for a weaker teammate.
  12. Hearing them offer sincere advice to a sibling or friend.
  13. The first time they take the time to teach a younger child.
  14. When they realize how important friendships are.
  15. The first time they find moral issue with something and take a stand against it.
  16. Their first heartfelt attempt at asking for forgiveness.
  17. The first time they wholeheartedly forgive.
  18. The first time a child tries something new when the odds are against them.
  19. When they know they’re marching to their own beat and they are proud of that.
  20. Not just trying, but trying again and again.
  21. The first time they accept rejection with grace and dignity.

These are the things you often can’t capture on paper or in photos.

When cameras are put away, when there are no grades to strive for, and when there are no coaches or teammates around, the most precious defining moments take place.

Photo via iStock.

I want my children to know that I care about these things — the people they are, not just the things they do.

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In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

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Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

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Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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