Overusing “Good Job!” - MetroFamily Magazine
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Overusing “Good Job!”

by Rebecca Lucas

Reading Time: 2 minutes 

I am always on the quest for articles on parenting. I know there are ways to improve being a mom and I love reading various articles from different points of view.

A friend of mine recently sent me a very timely and interesting article called, “Five Reasons to Stop Saying ‘Good Job!’ by Alfie Kohn, which was published in Parents Magazine in May 2000.

My initial reaction was that you can never say good job enough to your kids but I know my friend wouldn’t have sent it unless it was very thought provoking and helpful, so I continued to read. I am so glad I did because it made me think of those two words that I overuse with my daughter in a whole new light.

The article did point out to not confuse praise with being supportive and encouraging. It stated that saying “Good Job!” doesn’t reassure children; it ultimately makes them feel less secure because it can lead to our kids becoming adults who constantly rely on praise. It also stated that we are essentially telling a child how to feel, instead of letting them take delight in his/her accomplishments and to feel pride in what he/ she has learned to do. Kids need unconditional support and saying “Good Job!” is conditional.

Their suggestion is to bring kids in on the process of making decisions. If a child (who is old enough to reason) is doing something that disturbs others, ask them how they should solve the problem. This will help teach them that their feelings and ideas are important. When kids do something impressive, they suggested offering a simple, evaluation-free statement (“You put your shoes on by yourself”) If a child does something caring or generous, you might draw attention to the effect of his/her action on the other person: “She seems happy since you shared your snack.” This is different from praise, because the emphasis is on how you feel about her sharing.

The article was fairly lengthy and I barely scratched the surface of everything helpful mentioned in it. The items I pointed out were the main points I gleaned and will start working on right away with my daughter. The last sentence was probably the most important for me: “The good news is that you don’t have to evaluate in order to encourage.” This has taught me to focus more on the “who” she is becoming and encouraging her instead of constantly praising her.

If you would like to read the entire article, visit alfiekohn.org.

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