Why we don't say "good job" and what to say instead.

Posted by Valerie Davis on

Does this sound familiar? As a child you'd help your parents with housework, let's say you cleared your plate from the dinner table. Your mom would in return say "good job!" in celebration of the act. In turn, you began to crave that "good job" and would perform tasks in hopes of receiving it.

The problem with the above scenario is by saying good job, you're actually taking away value from the act the child has performed. We want our children to be self-motivated to perform tasks; to clear their dinner plate because it gives them pride and joy. Also, consider what happens if they struggle with that same activity another day and they don't get a good job? 

Makes sense, right? So let's take a look at what we can say to instill pride in our children:

  1. You did it!
  2. You worked hard!
  3. You look so happy!
  4. You look like you're having a joyous moment!
  5. Do you feel proud?
  6. Tell me about how you feel!
  7. What did you learn?
  8. Your hard work shows.
  9. I'm very proud of you.
  10. How did you do it? Tell me more!

Getting past the habit of "good job" is not an easy one, and if it has been in your repertoire, be kind to yourself as you begin replacing it. It definitely took me quite a bit of time, I still slip at times, but we're all a work in progress!

More resources/thoughts: 

https://www.alfiekohn.org/topics/bribing-students-learn/

http://www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/Professional-Articles/The-Power-or-Perils-of-Praise--Revisiting-assumpti.aspx

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