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Giving Compliments; A Management Strategy


They say compliments go a long way, and it’s oh so true. While giving compliments can seem more like positive praise and classroom community building, it also works wonders for classroom management.

Below are a few different ways you can incorporate giving compliments in your daily classroom routine. It will not only provide that positivity and community, but also foster safe, respectful and responsible students.

Spoken Compliments

There may be many times throughout the day when you will notice students doing things that keep them (or their neighbors) from being safe, respectful or responsible (like having side conversations while a speaker is talking or goofing around instead of getting their work done). Looking around the room to see who ISN’T doing those distracting things, and giving those students a compliment, works well for many reasons.

For one, it stops the behavior of the students who are off task. Second, it gets them back on track without any negativity, yelling, arguing or calling them out on their behavior. It’s done in a positive way with no negatives attached at all. Third, it gives positive recognition to the students who are on task. Finally, it reminds the entire class that you are looking around and giving out compliments. They all want the next compliment!

Compliments for individual students are crucial, but compliments as a whole group go far as well. Giving compliments to the whole class when you notice every student follwing directions or on task can also be really effective.

Compliment Jar

Having a compliment jar is a great way for students to give each other compliments throughout the day. They don’t have to wait for a particular day or activity in order to give compliments. When they think of them, they simply add them to the jar. Students really look forward to hearing the compliments, wondering if there is one for them in there. Therefore, this postive activity works great as a managment tool.

Setting goals with your students and letting them know that you will read from the compliment jar if (such and such) happens, gives them something to look forward to. It also gives them the motivation to do what is needed to get there. Plus, the activity itself is students providing each other with positive words. We all can use more of that!

Compliment ‘jars’ can come in a variety of sizes and can be created with any container that works for you! I got these cute, free compliment jar labels from Reagan Tunstall. You can grab them Here

After Partner Work

One nice way to end partner work is with having students give their partner a compliment. When the activity is complete, they tell their partner something that their partner did that they liked when they were working together. It’s a good culminating activity and instills a positive mindset in students. It also gives students lots of practice giving compliments.

Once this becomes a routine in your classroom, this helps guide your student’s behavior choices during group work. Students will start to remember that their partner is looking for something to give them a compliment about. They tend to work harder and stay more focused knowing about the compliments coming.

Brain Breaks

Giving compliments can also work well for brain breaks throughout the day. If you notice morale is low or some big incident happened, and you want to bring your student’s spirits up, you can always read from the compliments jar. When unfortunate things happen during the day, children have a harder time thinking of something positive when you are trying to shift the mood or lift spirits. But a compliment jar is full of compliments that will help to cheer them up with no effort on their part.

Transition Time

As you switch from subject to subject, you can read from the compliment jar as the students are putting away their materials and getting their new materials out. It will keep the noise level down as they all want to hear if the compliment is about them. It can also help to diminish off task behavior during transitions, as transitions are when unwanted behavior choices tend to occur.

You can also read from the jar when you are lining up to leave the classroom or as they are coming in. If you ever have the ‘extra few minutes because my students cleaned up extra fast today’ type of moment, then the compliment jar comes in super handy.

Compliment Day

Choosing a day of the week during morning circle time (or morning meeting…whatever you do in your classroom), in lieu of character trait or restorative circle discussions, you can replace it with compliment day. There are many ways to manage the logistics of this and you can choose to do what works for well for your particular group of students. One option is to pass the talking stick around the circle and have each student give a compliment to the person who passed them the talking piece.

Hearing a compliment is wonderful, but also hearing an explanation takes it one step farther. Instead of, “He is nice”, hearing something specific such as, “He is nice because he helped me clean out my desk yesterday” gives each student the feedback to know exactly what it was they did to earn that compliment. They will remember it and continue to exhibit those things more often.

The more giving compliments becomes a daily part of a child’s life, the more likely they are able to start doing on their own without being asked, remided or prompted. If we continue to practice with our student and model this ourselves, it will create a classsroom community for children to feel valued, loved and cared about. It will also help them to become productive adult citizens out in the world.


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