No to Good Job

‘Good Job’ Parenting

Hang around any playground, playgroup, or any place where kids are and I guarantee you, within a few minutes you will hear the most common phrase said to children – ‘GOOD JOB!’

I get it. Praise, specifically ‘Good Job’, is an old habit that has been drilled into many of us. For most of our lives, and our parents lives, we have grown up in a culture that believes that we need to praise to keep good behavior going and to generate self-esteem.

What many parents don’t know is that there are some negative effects of constantly praising kids.

5 Reasons to Stop saying ‘Good Job’

The five reasons to stop saying “Good job!” are:

Manipulating children — Called “sugar-coated control” by Rheta DeVries, professor of education at the University of Iowa, praise is simply the “carrot” side of behaviorism.

In other words, praising the good and ignoring the bad is equivalent to giving affection, attention, and love to the ‘good child’, and withdrawing love from the ‘bad child’.

Studies show that the more children perceive that they are being coerced and controlled — whether through punishments or rewards — the more the genuine motivation to be autonomous and responsible decreases.

Creating praise junkies — The more praise and evaluative statements we offer children the more they look outside themselves for direction, and subsequently their ability for self-correction decreases.

Ever see kids who look to their parents for every little thing they do?

More praise is associated with kid’s being less secure about their answers (e.g. saying things like “umm” before giving an answer), and quicker to back off if an adult disagrees with their view.

I don’t know about you but I want my kids to be confident in their viewpoints whether in the classroom or with me at the dinner table.

These kids are also less likely to persist on a difficult task, a pillar of success (persistence). And these children need continued (and often increasing) praise to compensate for the decreases in intrinsic motivation that rewards cause.

Stealing a child’s pleasure — Frequent praise takes the child away from their own experience of pride and accomplishment, and puts the focus on you — the parent.

When you say ‘good job’, sometimes it can come off as if we are telling them how they should feel instead of letting them feel their own internal feelings.

Losing interest — Rewards like praising can increase engagement with an activity as long as the reward is present, but take away that reward and the intrinsic motivation to do that same activity decreases below baseline levels.

This has been shown in a whole range of activities from drawing, to problem solving, to sharing.

Why is this important? The truth of the matter is that the real world is not going to be as praise happy as parents are.

When kids start living their own lives, you want them to do things for themselves, without expectation of reward or praise or ‘LIFE’ may eat them alive.

Reducing achievement — Praise and other rewards decrease our performance on all but the most basic mindless tasks.

They take our “eye off the ball” so to speak, increase fear of trying novel solutions, and also take away some of our intrinsic motivation for solving the problem.

For example, many top college admissions FAQ sections have the question, “Is it better to get an A in an easier class or a B in a harder class?”

A child who is hooked on the ‘praise’ drug would probably want to take the easy class and get an A (for the praise). Most top schools would answer, “Most of our students, take the hard classes and get As.”

Want more detailed explanations.. check out Alfie Kohn’s article on the subject.

So What Should I Do?

When you feel the “Good Job!” urge about to strike, stop and remember these 4 amazing alternatives…

Say THANK YOU – Show gratitude for the things your child does. It will also encourage and instill a sense of gratitude in your child. Soon your son or daughter will be saying Thank You for everything as well.

Say NOTHING – Just enjoy the moment with your child, let them decide how to feel.

Say What you Saw – Talk about what you are seeing. Talk about the journey or process not the end result. If your child draws a picture and shows you, talk about what you see.

Say Less, Ask More – Get your child talking about the process. Once a child starts talking (even if partly gibberish), encouragement follows. Let your child get excited about what they are doing/achieving.

Click here for more specific scripts you can say instead of “Good Job.”

So there you go! A simple idea that will make you a more effective parent.

Try it today. Good Job for reading this all the way to the end!

I mean, THANK YOU for reading my entire article. =)