Working with kids as much as I do one of the things that I try to do is to change how I give compliments.
Instead of “wow you’re really smart” -> “you really know a lot about [space]”
Instead of “you’re really talented/gifted at [swimming]” -> “you’re really good, good on you for working really hard at [swimming]”
Instead of “you’re so gorgeous/pretty” -> “I love your outfit today” or “what a cool dress” or “you look really happy/confidant today, it’s so lovely to see”
This applies to kids and to adults. Praising people for a trait makes it really important for them that they continue to be “smart” or “talented” or “gifted” or “gorgeous” and it creates bad feelings in other people who also want to work at being those things. But almost all of those things imply that it’s an innate quality and so working towards them and trying to keep them up is really soul sucking.
In contrast, the other compliments are about things that have actually been achieved: learning a lot about a topic, spending lots of time practicing a sport or a skill, picking awesome outfits.
Obviously some things do come easier to some people and it is important to figure out which ones and which ones they struggle with.
But compliments make it clear to that person what about them is valued. If we can switch from valuing people for their innate skills to valuing them for the work that they put in to improving those skills we create a more sustainable society.
And that’s my challenge to you. Try to replace all those innate compliments with ones that praise hard work, bravery, curiosity and determination.