Considering: https://parenting.stackexchange.com/a/11556/2221

Kids who are constantly told, "You are so beautiful" can actually become overly worried when their looks change and become overly critical of themselves.

Kids that are constantly told, "Wow you are so smart" can often find themselves fearful of letting the whole world see they aren't smart by answering something with a "wrong" answer. They then won't try things for fear of failure.

Kids who have their physical attributes (such as strength, speed, coordination) commented on frequently, "Wow you are so strong, that is amazing" can have similar responses too - they stop trying athletic activities out of concern they won't be the best at whatever it is.

Kids that get used to constant compliments also start to take the absence of a compliment as a failure. Which puts you in a position where just because you didn't notice your child picked up two toys without a reminder, you are sending a "bad" message by not commenting on this good act.

This means that instead of giving compliments, your default should be to talk to the child about what they think. In a small child, that might be something like, "wow, it looks like wearing that dress makes you feel really good." or, "How did throwing the ball that far make you feel?" Of course, mixing in an actual compliment here and there won't hurt, just be careful not to overdo it.

The infant is 1 year old.

When I tell her "Give me the ball", she looks for the ball, picks it up and gives it to me.
When I tell her "Pull baba's hair", she looks for her father and pulls his hair.
When I tell her "Where is the fan?", she points at the roof.
When I tell her "Where is the pigeon?", she goes to the balcony to find them.

Now, I do NOT want to praise her intelligence.
What is the one-word for praising the above mentioned acts?

  • I'm not sure there are any verbs meaning to praise [any specific thing] - not "intelligence", and certainly not "vocabulary". Is that really the kind of word you're looking for, or do you mean something more "general", like praise [in order to encourage repetition of the praised behaviour]? Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 13:53
  • Do you know that there is a single word for this and is on the tip of your tongue, or are you just hoping there might be one?
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 15:22
  • @Mitch I am not a native english speaker and I don't know anything. Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 15:51
  • actually, I wanted to praise the fact that at such a young age she can identify and remember a ball, lizard, fan, and finally understand "statements" like 'pull baba's hair'. @FumbleFingers Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 15:53
  • @ TheIndependentAquarius: Yes, but why don't you want to simply use the word praise? Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 16:20

3 Answers 3


The act you wish to praise is her comprehension.

One (of many) problems with seeking single words to express every concept is that you may alight on a word that is outside your audience's current vocabulary.

To praise the actions, not the personal attributes, I'd say "Well done, you understood everything I asked"

What you might want to express is "Well done, you showed me that you understood everything I asked" but there probably isn't a single word that means a demonstration of comprehension and which is in a 1-year-old's vocabulary.


Express your gratitude for her accommodating your request (and, optionally, share your pleasure at the outcome):

Thanks! Now I have a ball — shall we throw it at baba?

Thanks! Baba’s hair looks much nicer that way, and he says such funny things!

Thanks! Now I can turn it on, and we’ll see baba's papers fly all over the room!

Thanks! Let’s tell baba, too, and see how he turns all red and shouts at them to get off his car!

Please and thank you are, after all, verbal behaviors to be modelled and encouraged.

  • actually, I wanted to praise the fact that at such a young age she can identify and remember a ball, lizard, fan, and finally understand "statements" like 'pull baba's hair'. Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 15:53
  • 4
    @TheIndependentAquarius But you are doing that - you are providing positive reinforcement of her ability to understand language by indicating that she has done so successfully and you are pleased with that result. I suspect that one reason children seem to be (pathology aside) universally successful in learning language is that it has a built-in positive feedback loop. Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 16:03

"Very good!" is my suggestion. That is the expression used by teachers of English as a foreign language to praise beginners who finally pronounce a word correctly, and they are able to understand it, and so would a very young child.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.