Tips for Praising Your Teen

Key points

  • Praising your teen plays an important role in their emotional development and self-esteem.
  • Look for opportunities to praise your teen both verbally and nonverbally, such as telling them what you liked about their behavior, or giving them a big smile.


Parenting teens often gets a bad reputation. Every parent and caregiver experiences moments of doubt, frustration, and worry. We all need help figuring things out and can get caught up in the hard parts of a relationship. Let’s give equal airtime to the positive aspects of parenting a teen! It’s interesting and rewarding for you and your teen, to appreciate and call out the terrific things they are doing at this age. Here are some ideas for praising your teen.

Appreciate the joys of teen development

Teens do some amazing things! They start looking to the future and take steps to become the adults they want to be. Teens are interested in forming closer connections and romantic relationships, learning new things, and expressing themselves through sports and other creative activities. Take time to see your teen in action and praise their efforts in all they do.

Look for opportunities to praise your teen

Be aware of what's happening in your teen's day-to-day life. Ask questions and listen closely to their answers. Get to know the people and things that are important to them. Being aware of these things will help you notice positive changes or behaviors that deserve your praise.

Describe what you like about your teen's actions and behaviors

When you see your teen doing something positive, tell them what you like. Describe the action or behavior you're seeing. Be specific in your praise. This helps your teen understand what they're doing right and makes it more likely they'll want to repeat the behavior.

Communicate with verbal and nonverbal praise

Words of encouragement go a long way in letting your teen know that they're loved, appreciated, and respected for the positive actions they're taking in their lives. If it's okay with your teen, you can follow up with high fives, hugs, and other physical signs of affection. A big smile goes a long way, too. The memories and milestones that you share today form the basis of a healthy relationship between you and your teen as they become adults.

Try an activity‎

After watching the Praising Your Teen video and reading the information on this webpage, explore the activities from Praising Your Teen worksheet. Print it, write on it, type notes on your phone, or just take a few moments to quietly reflect on the questions.