Why You Should Stop Telling Your Child 'Good Job!'
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Finally, ‘good job’ doesn’t give a child any meaningful idea of what you are praising. For example, when you offer, “Good job, you picked up your towel,” are you complimenting their ability to hang the towel on the hook, to avoid a reprimand by not leaving it on the floor, or to be tidy? In order to reinforce age- and socially-appropriate behaviors, children need specific feedback about their actions. A constructive comment might be, “I noticed you picked up your towel—I’m glad to see that you’re getting in the habit of doing that; the bathroom is tidier for everyone.” This comment helps a child to see that his behavior impacts other members of the household. Another, more effective ‘good job’ replacement might be something like “Wow! You got a terrific report card—you must be proud to see your hard work pay off.” This acknowledgement ensures that your child learns that there is a connection between working hard and seeing results. In addition, the praise is not about doing the work for you, but rather for her benefit.
Banishing ‘good job’ from our parenting lexicon will, I’m sure, be a challenge. But I’m going to try hard to do it, and I really hope that you will join me in making an effort to offer kids more meaningful and constructive praise—when appropriate. They deserve at least this much from us!