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6 Tips for Perfect Praise with Mom

from MY MOTHER, MY FRIEND by Mary Marcdante
A Fireside Original/Simon & Schuster Trade Paperbacks


6 Tips for Perfect Praise with Mom

One of the most meaningful and least expensive ways to appreciate your mother is simply to tell her what you value about her. Give her a compliment. Here are six tips to help you acknowledge your mother more easily:

  1. Catch Mom in the act of being herself at her best, doing something good, honorable, kind, or helpful. Everyone needs positive feedback. Check in with yourself. How often do you acknowledge your mother? Make a list of ten of her strengths, talents, and skills. Write them down in a card and read them to her. Tell her that the rules are that there is no playing down or denying that what you say is true, and that if she can’t think of anything to say, “Thank you,” is enough. 

  2. Be specific in what you’re praising. Instead of saying, “Thanks for calling, Mom,” say, “Thanks Mom, for asking how my meeting went. You’re the only one who remembers the details of my life. I feel so loved by you.”

  3. Use positive words. It may seem like a small detail, but changing your language from negative to positive can make a difference in your level of energy and how people respond to you. Our energy decreases when we use negative words and increases when we hear and say positive words. Instead of saying, "Mom, you aren't as difficult as you usually are," say, "Mom, I really appreciate that you've been so supportive of me."

  4. Be immediate with your praise. People don’t change without a sense of urgency. If you want to change your thoughts about your mother from criticism to appreciation, you’ll want to acknowledge her positive actions as quickly as possible. Do this for yourself, too. Give yourself praise throughout the day, and you’ll be less dependent on your mother’s praise to validate you.

  5. Be sincere. Remember the time you flattered someone because you felt they needed to hear it and their response was one of surprise or denial. Perhaps it was because your intent was to make them feel better rather than to honestly acknowledge something positive you noticed. It is essential to tell the truth. Rather than flatter or patronize your mother, acknowledge that she seems a little down and ask, “What can I do to help?”

  6. Be personal. Acknowledge how you feel about what your mother has done for you. Positive feelings such as happiness, satisfaction, gratitude, pride, pleasure, relaxation, relief, joy, confidence, and competence motivate us to be better. "Instead of just saying, "Thanks, Mom!" tell her how you feel too: “Thank you so much for offering to drive me to the doctor. I’ve felt scared about this appointment and having you there will help me feel me calm.”


MARY MARCDANTE is a communication and stress management expert, and an award-winning international speaker whose high-energy, heart-warming, idea-packed programs inspire people at events and meetings around the world. She is the author of My Mother, My Friend, and Living with Enthusiasm and a contributing author to five best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul books and A Woman's Way to Success in Business. She has been interviewed on NBC, ABC, Fox News, Oxygen, and in The Wall Street Journal, Glamour, and AARP Magazine. She is a national spokesperson for the prevention of cervical cancer, of which she is a grateful, healthy 12-year survivor. She is a grand prize winner in Self-Magazine/Lady Footlocker’s “Realize the Dream” contest for her work in helping women realize their potential. Read more...

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The Ten Most Important Things to Talk About With Your Mother
Mary Marcdante
A Fireside Original/Simon & Schuster Trade Paperbacks
April 2001
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