McDowell says, “It isn’t a matter of not being able to find things to appreciate about your kids; it’s about disciplining yourself to speak up and tell your kids what you see — to give them honest praise for their effort.” He offers several practical examples:

* “Thank you for getting your homework done on time.”
* “I appreciate it when you take your dirty dishes to the sink after we eat.”
* “Thank you for putting the car in the garage for me without being asked.”
* “I appreciate you for spending time with your little sister when you wanted to be out with your friends.”

However, McDowell throws in a bit of caution. “Unless your young people are absolutely convinced that you accept them for who they are, your praise and appreciation can become manipulative. Appreciation without acceptance may prompt a student to relate to you on a performance basis.” While giving praise is necessary to your child’s well-being, make sure they also feel secure and accepted for who they are. They need to know you will love them whether they succeed or not.