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Is "good job" EVER a good thing to say? - Page 2

post #21 of 122
Something about the words "good job" really annoy me. I'm not certain what it is, but I feel stupid using them. I think maybe it reminds me of how people talk to dogs. When I grade papers, I tend to say "Nicely done!" when papers are particularly good. When talking with Simon, I don't use either, but he does get a fair amount of genuine praise and I think that I praise him a lot unintentionally too.
post #22 of 122
I actually described this whole ideology that "good job" as a bad thing to say is the salad dressing of parenting problems. I highly doubt that my genuine praise - however it is phrased - is going to turn my child into an attention seeking crazy person. While I totally get that it is better to use specific praise and I employ specific praise most of the time, I think "good job" has it's place. Obviously this is a your mileage may vary and you may do differently in your family type thing.

I really hate it when I read statements from other moms on MDC who hate to post in this forum because they think people will bash them for saying "good job." To me, it's just not that huge of an issue.
post #23 of 122
I tend to say "thank-you" to my DD's when they do something "good", like peeing in the potty, or bringing me something they shouldn't be playing with.

And now, they are always saying thanks, or tank-oo (too cute when my 18 month old does it) They learn by experience. I also have been trying not to say "good girl", too as I heard that it denotes that females are inherently bad.
post #24 of 122
lisac77, I really don't think it's that small of an issue. Dh's parents continually praised him up the whazoo throughout his life. Even though their praise was unconditional (they'd praise him for anything and everything, though of course their praise escalated when he was MVP or otherwise won an honour), he learned to seek it out big-time and to only feel good when others acknowledged what he was doing. For a long time, if he wasn't "the best" at whatever it was that he was doing, he'd be miserable. Searching for praise/fame/acknowledgement became his mission in life, quite literally. When not given praise, he'd feel worthless. He's working through these issues, and has come a long way, but the praise that he received was very harmful to him. I think it also contributed to his being non-confrontational to a fault. He finds it difficult to do anything that would be upsetting to someone, even if that person is clearly in the wrong. He was a compliant child and never (or very seldom and mildly) punished.
post #25 of 122
I'm with Lisac on this one. Like every single other parenting tool (good, bad, indifferent), praise can be used well or badly, appropriately or overused. Obviously, the situation that Dal describes is overused and maybe used badly. But that doesn't mean that ALL praise is that way. Or that all parents who use praise as part (not the only part) of their tool bags are doing it (praise or parenting) "wrong". And a cannot for the life of me (yes, I've read all the articles and books linked) see why a single specific phrase, if used for genuine circumstances now and then, can be so cotton-picken bad. I think its one more way to sell books and make parents feel like they need experts in their lives. And if I ever get to the point that I am so perfect a parent that my sole "problem" is too much praise or using the "wrong" words to do it, then I will pat my halo, fluff my wings and retire to a cloud with a harp. Surely we ALL have other things that should get more attention?
post #26 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dal
lisac77, I really don't think it's that small of an issue. Dh's parents continually praised him up the whazoo throughout his life. Even though their praise was unconditional (they'd praise him for anything and everything, though of course their praise escalated when he was MVP or otherwise won an honour), he learned to seek it out big-time and to only feel good when others acknowledged what he was doing. For a long time, if he wasn't "the best" at whatever it was that he was doing, he'd be miserable. Searching for praise/fame/acknowledgement became his mission in life, quite literally. When not given praise, he'd feel worthless. He's working through these issues, and has come a long way, but the praise that he received was very harmful to him. I think it also contributed to his being non-confrontational to a fault. He finds it difficult to do anything that would be upsetting to someone, even if that person is clearly in the wrong. He was a compliant child and never (or very seldom and mildly) punished.
While I understand where you're coming from I believe this type of reasoning to be a deductive fallacy. Kind of a post hoc, ergo propter hoc scenario.

You are attributing your husband's attention-seeking behavior with his parents' constant unconditional praise. While this may be true (since I don't know your husband, his parents, or his situation growing up, I can't make that kind of judgment), I don't know that for sure. I only know that you think that it is true.

I think this argument may hold water, but I have not seen sufficent evidence that using general praise really results in negative behaviors from the child being praised. I think that some people naturally seek out attention. Couldn't one easily turn the argument around and say, "Because John never got praise from his parents, he is always seeking praise and attention from others." Without real correlation and proof (hard to get, I know) you can't really claim either of these statments as true.

Since there's no real proof one way or the other, I think that it is difficult to make a strong argument. I simply go with my gut on this one, and I'm sure you'll do the same.
post #27 of 122
My 2 cents.

If your child puts one block on top of another (and has done this 1,000x before) and then pauses and looks at you for approval, it's time to cut back on the praise.

If she builds a 5 foot tower and has never stacked blocks like that and you are filled with the same awe that is in her face and you exclaim in glee "way to go, GREAT job" she'll survive!
post #28 of 122
I am kind of a praise junkie, and I'll tell you with me it goes WAY deeper than having "good job" said to me one too many times. It was a general attitude from my mother that I had to always 'over achieve' to be worthy. I don't know if I can explain it that well, but it was way more than the window dressing of the particular words that were said or not said. On the other hand, it may also be that I just have the innate personality trait of desiring praise.

I don't think that the occasional "good job", if genuine and heartfelt is damaging. I say this to other adults sometimes when I really think they have done a good job at something so why not my child?
post #29 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by fly-mom
I am kind of a praise junkie, and I'll tell you with me it goes WAY deeper than having "good job" said to me one too many times. It was a general attitude from my mother that I had to always 'over achieve' to be worthy. I don't know if I can explain it that well, but it was way more than the window dressing of the particular words that were said or not said.
I know what you are getting at. I got that from my parents too. It was more than the lip service of "good job" or other type of praise that did it. It was very obvious in their tone, mannerisms, and behavior toward me that if I would not have their approval or any attention if I did not do the things they expected me to do. And then getting praised with words by other adults/teachers for being the "good girl" and doing as I was told. Bad set up for me, from which I'm still recovering.

However, I think the issue with "good job" is that is it is so overused, all in the name of "praise the kids and build their self-esteem." I have seen too many people use that phrase and *no other*. It's as if they can't think of any other words to say.
So yeah, I hate the phrase. But I don't condemn people who use it when it's heartfelt and honest.

I do condemn it when it's half-a$%ed.
I have seen kids begging their parents "Did you see me? Guess what I did today. Mom? Mom?" and then the kid gets a half-hearted "Yeah, yeah, good job, that's nice, honey" while the parent is not even looking at them. And then that parent thinks that they have done well because they praised the child. : Uh, no, you need to pay attention to the child and be genuine or tactful in your response. No need to gush and fawn like it's the eighth wonder of the world. But do try to show the child that you really do see and hear them. I mean, really, how would you treat another adult? You wouldn't praise ever little thing they did, but neither would you ignore them.

I think, as with most things, there is a certain balance needed.
post #30 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wugmama
I LOVE to praise my dd, and get defensive when I start hearing various reasons why I shouldn't. I have said "Good job" so many times that my dd says it to me - and guess what, it makes me feel good!

That being said, I read a bit about praise in the "How to talk so your kids will listen..." book, and have tried to use the tools given there.

For example, when she gives me a piece of her treat, instead of saying "good job sharing" I will thank her and tell her, "You are a generous girl to share your treat with me". I can't remember exactly how the book puts it, but it made sense to me at the time about why this is a good thing to do. They can internalize something about themselves that they can carry with them rather than just a fleeting action, or something like that.

Also, if she shows me a pic she colored I might say, "Good job! I like how you chose lots of bright colors" so she knows I am really interested in her picture.

~Tracy


i dont get defensive, but i am dumbfounded about how people avoid praising children. i never received "good job" and "excellent work!" as a child and let me tell you, it does hurt the self esteem. i grew up completely clueless as to what my parents really thought about me and i assumed that they didnt think much.

i LOVE to tell seth "excellent work!" when he has accomplished something or "good job!" when he comes to me to show me something. to say that this is a bad way to raise your child is absultely utterly absurd.
post #31 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dal
lisac77, I really don't think it's that small of an issue. Dh's parents continually praised him up the whazoo throughout his life. Even though their praise was unconditional (they'd praise him for anything and everything, though of course their praise escalated when he was MVP or otherwise won an honour), he learned to seek it out big-time and to only feel good when others acknowledged what he was doing. For a long time, if he wasn't "the best" at whatever it was that he was doing, he'd be miserable. Searching for praise/fame/acknowledgement became his mission in life, quite literally. When not given praise, he'd feel worthless. He's working through these issues, and has come a long way, but the praise that he received was very harmful to him. I think it also contributed to his being non-confrontational to a fault. He finds it difficult to do anything that would be upsetting to someone, even if that person is clearly in the wrong. He was a compliant child and never (or very seldom and mildly) punished.
so was he not priased when he did it wrong? because frankly we priase the effort not the result. and we praise all the time. we praise him for all the work he puts into things. i truly dont care if he becomes a dishwasher or a surgeon, i just want him to really get that the work you do in life is what is important. AND when you get a good result, thats something to be proud of.
post #32 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan&Anna's_Mom
I'm with Lisac on this one. Like every single other parenting tool (good, bad, indifferent), praise can be used well or badly, appropriately or overused. Obviously, the situation that Dal describes is overused and maybe used badly. But that doesn't mean that ALL praise is that way. Or that all parents who use praise as part (not the only part) of their tool bags are doing it (praise or parenting) "wrong". And a cannot for the life of me (yes, I've read all the articles and books linked) see why a single specific phrase, if used for genuine circumstances now and then, can be so cotton-picken bad. I think its one more way to sell books and make parents feel like they need experts in their lives. And if I ever get to the point that I am so perfect a parent that my sole "problem" is too much praise or using the "wrong" words to do it, then I will pat my halo, fluff my wings and retire to a cloud with a harp. Surely we ALL have other things that should get more attention?
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post #33 of 122
I definitely think praising every little action should be avoided, but I don't think kids should never be praised either. Like everything else, there is a balance that must be found. When it is a real accomplishment, I will praise my kids. I try to link the accomplishment to hard work, rather than to them being "good", which is a value judgment. Last year, my oldest dd had trouble reading in first grade. She is one of the youngest in her class. She ended the year behind and at the bottom of her class in reading. I sent her to a summer program for a month and we worked on her reading nearly every day. By the end of the summer, she was just about on the second grade level when she was tested. Now, that deserved praise. I told her I thought she worked really hard and did a great job. I also asked her how it made her feel to do so well on the screening. She told me it felt great. I thought it was important to make the connection between how much time she spent reading and her success. This helps prevent the "I'm smart or I'm stupid" feelings in kids.

As far as help around the house. I thank them for their work and help. I tell them the house looks great and that it was a big help to mom. Then we spend some time together playing a game or whatever. They learn that when we all work together to take care of our home, we have more time together.

I know this is rambling a bit, but basically, if it is a good job and the child worked at something, I think it should be acknowledged and praised. The problem comes when every little inconsequential action is praised. The praise becomes meaningless. Kids are smart. They know when they truly did a "good job" and when the praise is bs.
post #34 of 122
i used to be a 'good jobber', or 'good XYZ' until i realized that there were times (i work with children) that it sounded so saccharine-sweet, and not genuine.

i prefer to be specific and to acknowledge the effort or intent that went into something, rather than 'evaluating' the outcome of it.

my mother was an overpraiser with me and (as an only kid), i felt tremendous pressure to perform, and am still working to overcome this. my mother tells dd, 'you're the best helper/jumper/singer... in town' i find this annoying and untrue, and dd has started to go around saying, 'i'm the best XYZ'er in town' (and expecting it to be true). i am going to put a stop to it with my mother. i don't want dd to have the same pressure.

i do praise her, but not *for the sake* of praising her. i thank her for specific things she does and tell her why i appreciate the action, and comment, 'i see you really thought about how to make that, and you look really proud of it, cool!'

i don't condemn people who say 'good job' but i think with more consideration, it's easy to break out of that sort of nebulous comment into something that holds more info for the child.

post #35 of 122
i dont know what you guys mean about "every little thing" do you mean when seth gets out of the bathtub and i priasehim for getting out fo the bathtub then thats overdone? well WHO would do that??? the thing is, i was never priased for anything ever. i was never even told, i love you growing up. once. hard to beleive? thats not half of it.

im going to tell seth that he did an excellent job when he picks up his toy or when he starts to help or when he falls down and is scared to try again and does it anyways. if thats too much praising according to you, have me arrested.

i also tell him that he shouldnt pee on the floor when he does. is that bad too?

the whole thing about avoiding praise and reprimanding is patently absurd, IMO. you end up with feral children who do not know how to navigate in this life. both my husband and myself were raised in this fashion... me because my parents truly didn't give a damn, and my husband because they were of the experimental psychology set of the 70's which said that each child should be his own navigator. we both ened up flailing around in our adult lives with NO CLUE how to behave.
post #36 of 122
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by geekgolightly
i dont know what you guys mean about "every little thing" do you mean when seth gets out of the bathtub and i priasehim for getting out fo the bathtub then thats overdone? well WHO would do that??? the thing is, i was never priased for anything ever. i was never even told, i love you growing up. once. hard to beleive? thats not half of it.

im going to tell seth that he did an excellent job when he picks up his toy or when he starts to help or when he falls down and is scared to try again and does it anyways. if thats too much praising according to you, have me arrested.

i also tell him that he shouldnt pee on the floor when he does. is that bad too?

the whole thing about avoiding praise and reprimanding is patently absurd, IMO. you end up with feral children who do not know how to navigate in this life. both my husband and myself were raised in this fashion... me because my parents truly didn't give a damn, and my husband because they were of the experimental psychology set of the 70's which said that each child should be his own navigator. we both ened up flailing around in our adult lives with NO CLUE how to behave.
There is a difference between praise and positive feedback. Most of us who don't praise (or don't praise much) DO constantly give feedback- tell dc how their actions affect others, etc. "thanks for helping me pick up your toys. It makes it go faster, and now we can do something else" or "Hey! You built that tower up really high!" We just don't *evaluate* what dc do. "You did a good job helping"
And, I'd bet that just about every mom here constantly shows love, affection, and appreciation to her dc. Without praising. I want ds to know that I love him for HIM, not what he *does*. kwim? And I don't love him less if he decided to NOT help me clean.

I also don't praise because, I trust that he is able to judge for himself what he wants to do or not. What's worth doing or not. He knows if stacking the blocks up is a worthwhile thing to do, to him. He knows if he wants to help clean up toys or not (almost always does). I let him know how his actions affect others (in the case of helping me clean, say).
I sit and play blocks with him, and he builds. Honestly, he has fun doing it, and never looks to me to see if I approve of what he's doing or not. He has uninhibited fun. He's doing it for himself. Sometimes, if he stacks a lot, I might say that.

As far as not guiding, I guide him plenty. Like I said, I tell him how his actions affect others. I tell him what is socially acceptable, and what isn't- matter of factly. I don't reprimand, or shame, or yell. I do tell him not to pee on the floor "The floor's not where we pee. We pee in the potty, or you can pee in your diaper." (obviously not *expecting* it yet) Giving information about how the world works.
He chooses to do the socially acceptable thing, most of the time. Without praise or reprimanding from me. Just feedback and information.
And trust me, the boy knows he's loved
post #37 of 122
Thread Starter 
Just wanted to add a few thoughts here:

I think that manipulative praise (praise done in order to get a certain action to continue or occur again) undermines a child's innate sociability, and a child's natural desire to learn, achieve, and accomplish. That's why I don't feel the need to praise ds for getting the blocks in the shape sorter- he has a natural desire to do that.

and a few quotes that I really liked from Unconditional Parenting:
about a study in which kids who were praised for "displays of generosity" actually became LESS generous than other kids- "Those actions came to be seen not as something valuable in their own right but as something the children had to do to get that reaction again from an adult." It becomes a means to an end.

and
"Why do we feel the need to keep evaluating our children's actions, turning them into "jobs" that may, if they're lucky, be deemed "good"?
We don't need to evaluate in order to encourage.
post #38 of 122
Good points Deva33mommy. I think that you can give your child your attention and encouragment without the judgment. Your child shouldn't feel that every little thing they is being judged good or bad.

Quote:
the whole thing about avoiding praise and reprimanding is patently absurd, IMO. you end up with feral children who do not know how to navigate in this life. both my husband and myself were raised in this fashion... me because my parents truly didn't give a damn, and my husband because they were of the experimental psychology set of the 70's which said that each child should be his own navigator. we both ened up flailing around in our adult lives with NO CLUE how to behave.
I think maybe what you and your husband had were neglectful parents. I try not to pass judgment on every little thing my kids do, but they do get plenty of love, attention, and encouragment. They are kind, respectful, studious young people. Definetly not "feral." They navigate life better than a lot of adults I know.
post #39 of 122
First, thank you for this wonderful conversation on this topic. My husband and I were discussing it last night, and I was having a difficult time articulating to him the hows and why's of over praising or saying something like "that's my boy" when our ds does something good or funny or new. I'm glad we're getting a chance to reflect on our own practices.

Second, I wanted to respond to what some of you had said...

I do think everyone has has the right to their own parenting style, AND I do see the need for parenting experts in the world. I don't think everyone grows up with good examples of parenting... and so I think it is good to have other resources available for new parents to be exposed to new and different kinds of thinking. So obviously when the door is opened to critique every and all parenting styles, it seems apparent that there is likely a down side to nearly each parenting style (at least according to some "experts"... just look at the debates on almost every nfl issue). There is a book "Parenting from the Inside Out" that talks about the choices we make based on how we were raised. Bottom line, I think it's short sighted to think that we as parents, have all the answers within ourselves.

I also think that it is limiting to think that anyone trying to improve their parenting is aiming for perfection... to think that we will never be perfect, and therefore never try or to think that we have to be perfect parents BOTH seem to be mindsets that perhaps would limit ones ability to be comfortable with ones own parenting choices and limit ones desire to seek out continued education.

I some of you are dissatisfied with certain aspects of the way your parents raised you, then it makes sense for us as parents to seek out new information and not simply dismiss an idea as insignificant. Certainly parenting is complicated and many things can go into how an adult child feels about how he/she was raised. Is it the statement that stuck with one child throughout his life, or was it the overall parenting over his childhood? He can only know for himself.... But as for the rest of us, I'm sure none of us would wish this outcome upon our children. We should take pause, however, when we think we're involved attentive parents... are our children receptive to what we are doing... in other words, are our children seeing our parenting as we intend it??

Thanks again for this conversation... btw there was a mothering article about too much praise from a school teacher I think... her son got an award certificate for "good job" at doing a "good job" also a certificate for doing a good job at losing a tooth... IMHO I think that's over the top, and that there are real examples of over praising in today's society.
post #40 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deva33mommy
There is a difference between praise and positive feedback. Most of us who don't praise (or don't praise much) DO constantly give feedback- tell dc how their actions affect others, etc. "thanks for helping me pick up your toys. It makes it go faster, and now we can do something else" or "Hey! You built that tower up really high!" We just don't *evaluate* what dc do. "You did a good job helping"
And, I'd bet that just about every mom here constantly shows love, affection, and appreciation to her dc. Without praising. I want ds to know that I love him for HIM, not what he *does*. kwim? And I don't love him less if he decided to NOT help me clean.

Thanks for making that distinction between praise and positive feedback, Deva33mommy. It hadn't occured to me to me to differentiate between the two. But I think it's an important difference.
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