Why we no longer say “good job” to kids, and why I’m on board
You may have been chastised for telling your kids, “good job!” at one point or another, or maybe you’ve seen another mom catch herself when she says “good job” to her own child. Yup, we are in a new era of parenting. An era where we no longer tell our kids “good job” for everything they do. At first when I heard about this phenomenon, I thought it was going too far and just plain silly. Now, I am fully on board. And I’ll tell you why.
Why we don’t say “good job” anymore
If you were raised like me, your sweet parents lauded everything you did. From taking a step, to cleaning your room. If you are a people pleaser, like me, of course that feels good in the moment. However, what we are learning now as parents is that constantly praising your kids can have negative effects.
It creates people pleasers
Instead of learning to get satisfaction from their effort, they learn to get satisfaction from praise. This turns their reward outward, instead of inward. What’s more, once they’ve learned to get their “reward” from an outside source and learns that it feels good, they start to seek that reward again and again.
It can be manipulative
Once you know your child is seeking the reward of a “good job” or some other form of praise, it can easily become a form of manipulation to get them to do something they either don’t want to do, or something you want them to do. This can be subconscious or conscious.
It can rob them of an even bigger reward
When a child truly conquers a fear or masters a challenge, a brief “good job” is pennies compared to the deep, lasting satisfaction of internal satisfaction. Not only does the immediate internal satisfaction feel better, but it lasts longer and can start to shape their neural pathways and their self-image. This is a powerful foundation they can stand on the rest of their lives.
What to do instead
Though it may seem counterintuitive, the best thing to do when a major, or minor, goal has been achieved is to remain calm. Keep a neutral expression on your face and instead of showing them how they should feel, ask them how they feel. Ask detailed questions like, “You just built that entire tower yourself. How does that feel?” Or “Was that hard to do? You look pretty proud of yourself.” Let them process and internalize those thoughts and form their own conclusions. You may also simply narrate what they have achieved, or thank them in some cases. For example, “You cleaned up your toys. Thank you. That’s a big help.”
Why I’m on board
As a recovering perfectionist and people pleaser myself, I am now learning how to have pride in my own achievements instead of basing my value on others’ opinions and thoughts about me.
And I’ll tell you what, it feels damn good.
With people pleasing, you are always chasing your next “high” and your next “good job.” With internal satisfaction, the feeling lingers and starts to shape the way you view yourself.
To someone who has been striving her whole life, this feels like peace. And this same peace is a gift I want to give my boys. It is a gift that will last their whole lives.
I hope your family finds peace and balance in this area and that you give yourself grace if you do choose to say good job, or if you forget not to say good job! Trust me, when it’s a knee-jerk response, it can be a tough habit to break! But you can do it!