Parent Confident Kids by Saying This Instead of “Good Job”
Of course, our children are amazing and we want to praise them, but did you know that praise does not equal confidence. So let’s say this instead of “Good Job!”
First, saying things like, “Good job” or “Way to go, Buddy!” are not bad things to say. They are better than nothing and much better than something critical or demeaning. I mean, they are nice, but phrases and praises like this tend to be a little insincere or empty. What does that mean, “good job”, anyway?
Let’s be intentional and raise history-makers!
Further, studies have shown (link) that praising children does not necessarily increase confidence. Some theories that have been tested suggest that in some cases, praise can actually stall a child and his growth mindset.
What? I thought I was helping!
Here’s what can happen. For example, we tell a child, “you are so smart” on the regular. Then he faces something that is really hard (because he is human and everyone faces hard things, yes, even your children and mine).
Then what often happens is a “smart” person begins to distrust the praise because “if I were so smart, why is this so hard for me?” (This is my quick-bite paraphrased summary.)
In other words, let’s look at this in a context our adult brains can connect with.
I used to work for a boss that would say, “you’re amazing” and similar phrases like that. That is nice to hear and really tickled my immediate gratification.
But then I was working my tail off with no support and this manager had no clue about my job. It felt pat and empty. “You’re amazing” felt almost insulting to hear.
I would think, “you have no idea if I am amazing or not because you really don’t see me or understand the work that I am doing over here.” For me, it broke down my trust in my leader. It might as well have been “good job”.
Have you ever felt this way after receiving a compliment?
Instead of “good job” say this
Let’s try a more intentional approach.
In the same vein, in raising my kids, I try to put myself in their shoes and see things from their perspective. I wouldn’t want empty, pat compliments. Neither do they. I do what I can to communicate with respect and truly see them as persons, individuals with feelings, emotions, and thoughts. I hope to build mutual respect.
In short, I know this is completely basic, but we often get into habits of behavior, we get lazy and pat. I want to be more intentional. Do you?
Does intentional mean perfect? No.
Intentional means, “I’m trying to do my best”. And isn’t that like Altogether Mostly? That is thriving with grace. Thriving is doing my best for me and grace is that mercy for when we are learning and growing and don’t get it right every time.
With an intentional mix of
We can raise some powerful kids to be tomorrow’s history makers.
Raising Powerful Kids by Saying This Instead of “Good Job”
To help feel seen, acknowledged
You did it.
I see you.
Tell me about it…
I am watching you do [this].
I hear you.
You worked hard.
I saw that!
I want to know about that.
It looked like you were working really hard.
You did that [specific thing]!
To encourage problem-solving
What else could you try?
That is a brave idea.
You found a new way.
That was hard, but you tried harder.
Could there be another way?
To encourage and recognize effort
You worked hard.
It looked like you were really doing your best.
Look at you trying to beat this.
That was a big obstacle/problem/challenge.
You’ve been working on getting this.
To help articulate feelings
How did that feel?
Does it feel great now that you are on the other side?
You said you thought you couldn’t do it, but you did.
Do you feel proud?
You looked brave and scared at the same time.
Was that frustrating at first?
To acknowledge good habits
I saw you [did the habit]!
What a responsible choice
That is how we do it!
I love when you…
What a healthy thing to do for yourself
To encourage creativity, experimentation, curiosity
What did you think of that [outcome]?
I didn’t work this time. What next?
Was that interesting?
Tell me more about your…
What did you learn?
I wonder what would happen if you try [something else]?
I think your children are amazing, too and we want to praise their miraculous personhood, so let’s use intention about what to say instead of “Good Job!”
Above all, saying things like, “Good job” or “way to go, Buddy!” is not inherently wrong. It’s OK, but I think we can do better! Let’s let our children feel seen, known, and acknowledged for their individual personhood.
Isn’t that what we all want – to be seen and known? I don’t think a “good job” can do that.
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About the Author, Jaime
Here at Altogether Mostly, you will find grace, compassion, joy, and beauty. I use empathy and a little tough love to bring out the best in people. I live in the Midwest United States with my loving husband and awesome children.
For more about me and Altogether Mostly, please visit my about page here.