alternatives to good job

How to Say ‘Good Job’ Without Saying ‘Good Job’

Last week I shared some thoughts on saying ‘Good Job’ or shall I say, some of the negative effects of saying it. I’m hoping it made you think about how and what you say to your child to help develop them into their best selves.

I understand that breaking a habit is not easy. I’m hoping that you’ve already thought about something better to say than ‘good job.’ Super busy and didn’t get around to it? No worries, I got you covered.

I’ve put together a list of alternatives to ‘good job’ and when to use them.

Instead of ‘Good Job’ say:


Say thank you when you mean it – explain why you are grateful for your child’s actions. Gratitude starts at the home!

  • Thank you for helping with…
  • It makes mornings/dinner/outings easier when you…. thank you
  • I really appreciate it when you…
  • Thank you for doing that… it means I/we can now…


Make an observation based on facts – just say what you see without emotions or judgment.

  • We did it together.
  • Wow! You made a building/drawing/etc.
  • You did it on your own.
  • You did x and then y and worked it out.
  • You used lots of colors/blocks/tape/etc.
  • You made it really big/small/colourful/complicated/etc.
  • That took you a long time, and you did it!


Ask and encourage – extend learning and encourage conversation by asking questions about what you see while also recognising their efforts.

  • How did you do that?
  • You did X, what will you do now?
  • Can you tell me about it?
  • What is your favourite part?
  • How did you think of that?


Put feelings into words – explain how something makes you feel, help your kids notice how their actions make others feel and acknowledge your children’s own feelings.

  • I really enjoy doing this with you.
  • I love watching you create/help your sister/play soccer/ etc.
  • I’m so proud to be your mum, every day, no matter what.
  • Look how happy your friend is when you share/help/smile/etc.
  • You kept going, even when it was hard.
  • You look so pleased to have done that!
  • You made X feel so pleased when you did that.
  • It makes you feel good when you do X.


Say nothing – we don’t need to praise every little action, or fill every space with noise. It is enough to sit back and watch our children’s delight in their own achievements

  • Say nothing – just smile or nod.

Changing this habit and taking the time to think of something better to say can be hard, and it takes more time and effort, but that is the point. It is next to meaningless if we just regurgitate hollow praise without thinking. Only say something when you mean it, then you won’t notice the time and effort it takes to tell your child how you feel, how excited, or how thankful you are because it will be genuine.

Need a reminder? Our friends at PickleBums hooked us up with a great printout!