Too much praise--should I say something? - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-16-2009, 11:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DS is 25 months. He just started speech therapy in our home 2x week. The speech therapist is great and my son likes her, but her use of "good job" is driving me nuts. It's not that she's praising his ability to make a sound or say a word, it's to continue to get him to play, or to continue his interest in a particular toy she brings over.
She doesn't have to say "Good job" to him because he rolled the play-dough, because he opened a book, because he stacked a block, etc. He will maintain attention to a task as long as he wants to without an adult loading on praise. When he does finally make a "C" sound or put two words together, THAT'S when I think it's OK for her to say "hey, great, you did it!" Not this mindless "good job" because he's just playing.
Besides, when DS does something *he* feels is pretty darn neat, he will clap for himself, unprompted. I don't want him to need adults to tell him how to feel or feel that he needs praise.
So, my question is, should I say something to the therapist? Or just keep my mouth shut and grit my teeth through the crappy praise?

TIA!
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:20 AM
 
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If you feel it really is a problem, then you should probably say something. I personally don't have a problem with "good job" so I wouldn't.

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Old 06-16-2009, 11:20 AM
 
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Subbing, because my mom does this and I'm curious if there's any constructive way to approach it with her w/o hurting her feelings.

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Old 06-16-2009, 11:24 AM
 
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Subbing, because my mom does this and I'm curious if there's any constructive way to approach it with her w/o hurting her feelings.
ditto exactly!

DS 12/22/05 and DD 5/24/09
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:43 AM
 
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Instead of saying "good job" I give more specific "praise"

For example, "You worked very hard at rolling that play dough. You did it all by yourself!" or "you made the /c/ sound! I knew you could do it!" or "You made a sentence! I bet you're proud of yourself!"

Some children seem to need more acknowledgement for what they've accomplished. If your son doesn't need as much acknowledgement, you could mention that to his sp. therapist... maybe say something like "DS learns better if the praise is more spread out and more specific. He isn't as motivated by constant good jobs."

With the pp's mom, you could say just sort of in general conversation, "you know, I've been noticing that it just doesn't seem to help DS for me to tell him good job. So we tried something different. Instead I told him 'you did xyz! you did it all by yourself!' and he just looked really proud after I said it that way." Maybe if you tell your mom about it in terms of a challenge that you've had and figure out, then she won't take it personally.

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Old 06-16-2009, 01:27 PM
 
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With her being around him so often and having such an influence over him I would definitely say something. She's not just doing it with your kid but with other kids too. I'd suggest some Alfie Kohn to her and ask that she refrain from using praise to encourage behavior.

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Old 06-16-2009, 01:34 PM
 
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can somebody fill me in please? i agree it is excessive but i was wondering about why it is an issue aside from driving ya nuts.. which i totally understand it would drive me nuts too. what are the reasons not to praise for every little thing?
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Old 06-16-2009, 01:47 PM
 
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can somebody fill me in please? i agree it is excessive but i was wondering about why it is an issue aside from driving ya nuts.. which i totally understand it would drive me nuts too. what are the reasons not to praise for every little thing?
Check out Alfie Kohn's books.

(sorry i know you are probably looking for a more direct answer but I'm nak with a fussy babe right now!)

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Old 06-16-2009, 01:48 PM
 
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OP there are two ways i look at this as opportunities for your son.

one is the good job part.

the other is interacting in an intimate way with another adult.

and you saying something is what i would definitely say 'controlling' (mind you i mean with a lot of support for you, not coming from the negative side of the word - not implying bad). i see this as an invaluable opportunity for ds to interact with the outside world. and i think you should leave it to both of them.

you say he just started. watch the therapist. she probably gets a lot of kids who dont cooperate. so her good job may be a celebration of wow this kid IS playing indeed and i dont have to bug him. i think when she sees he does this on his own without any needling from her, i am sure you will see the spate of good jobs come down.

i cringe at some of the things my fil would tell my dd. however i never came in between them. because i realised she picked up her values from me and her dad. that aspect of her gpa made her think. and she would come and ask me 'mama gpa said this, am i really this?' and then we'd go into what she thought about it herself.

next time you hear her say good job, think of it as celebration of play. kids are v. v. sensitive creatures and much wiser than adults who have been corrupted with life. i really find they truly pick up the essence of what the person wants to say.

it is not going to get him addicted from hearing good job.

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Old 06-16-2009, 02:17 PM
 
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I would not, but that's because I decided for myself a while ago that even though DH and I don't "good job" our child to death, other people who say that to him mean well and it isn't worth hurting their feelings to try to get them to use the same methods that we do (the basic Alife Kohn stuff).

You and your DH will be your child's biggest influence, regardless of how much he hears "good job" from the therapist.

Keep modeling the way you praise around your therapist, and maybe she'll catch on.
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Old 06-16-2009, 03:11 PM
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I would say something to her. She's a professional so she won't be offended and she's with small children all the time so she it's useful information for her. My DD's speech therapist never said 'good job', but did use specific praise occasionally.
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Old 06-16-2009, 03:25 PM
 
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Is she trained in an ABA style method? If she is, her praise will probably never be "Great /c/, I knew you could do it!" but "Kowabunga! /c/" "Awesome /c/" etc.

If she just started, I would definitely let her get used to your son. At worst, I'd think your son would start to realize how hollow that phrase is, and not be phased by it one way or another.

There's not reason not to ask her about her theory and practice on praise-giving, but overall, I would be really put off if a mom criticized something as meaningless as "good job" (meaningless a phrase, not meaningless your concern). She/I/anyone really needs some liberty to do her job and get comfortable.

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Old 06-16-2009, 04:28 PM
 
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I would phrase it for her as "My son does better with specific praise for things that he's worked hard on. "Good job" isn't very effective for him, but "look how you're really working the playdough!" does."

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Old 06-16-2009, 04:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Is she trained in an ABA style method? If she is, her praise will probably never be "Great /c/, I knew you could do it!" but "Kowabunga! /c/" "Awesome /c/" etc.

If she just started, I would definitely let her get used to your son. At worst, I'd think your son would start to realize how hollow that phrase is, and not be phased by it one way or another.

There's not reason not to ask her about her theory and practice on praise-giving, but overall, I would be really put off if a mom criticized something as meaningless as "good job" (meaningless a phrase, not meaningless your concern). She/I/anyone really needs some liberty to do her job and get comfortable.
I agree. I do not want to criticize her. The use of praise is something she would have studied in her training to be a therapist (how to use it, when, etc)? I don't want to tell her how to do her job--maybe I can bring it up more along the lines of "I'm interested in your methods--can you tell me about them" and have her explain herself? That way it is a conversation rather than criticism?
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Old 06-16-2009, 07:00 PM
 
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Is it bothering your child or bothering you?
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Old 06-16-2009, 07:54 PM
 
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I agree. I do not want to criticize her. The use of praise is something she would have studied in her training to be a therapist (how to use it, when, etc)? I don't want to tell her how to do her job--maybe I can bring it up more along the lines of "I'm interested in your methods--can you tell me about them" and have her explain herself? That way it is a conversation rather than criticism?
Absolutely. She should easily be able to tell you about her training and theories. Ask a general question first and then ask about rewards/praise in the process. She may even self-correct when reminded of her own methods.

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Old 06-17-2009, 11:48 AM
 
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Originally Posted by shanniesue2 View Post
Instead of saying "good job" I give more specific "praise"

For example, "You worked very hard at rolling that play dough. You did it all by yourself!" or "you made the /c/ sound! I knew you could do it!" or "You made a sentence! I bet you're proud of yourself!"

Some children seem to need more acknowledgement for what they've accomplished. If your son doesn't need as much acknowledgement, you could mention that to his sp. therapist... maybe say something like "DS learns better if the praise is more spread out and more specific. He isn't as motivated by constant good jobs."

With the pp's mom, you could say just sort of in general conversation, "you know, I've been noticing that it just doesn't seem to help DS for me to tell him good job. So we tried something different. Instead I told him 'you did xyz! you did it all by yourself!' and he just looked really proud after I said it that way." Maybe if you tell your mom about it in terms of a challenge that you've had and figure out, then she won't take it personally.
:

My MIL is the same way. It just seems ridiculous to me when she says "Good job!" when DS is whacking a spoon against the wall. He deserves a more focused response, like "Wow, that sounds cool." It's funny, but DS just looks at her like she's crazy when she does it.
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Old 06-17-2009, 12:47 PM
 
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I say "good job"-I've read some of Alfie Kohn, I don't necessarily agree with his views.

I also say "awesome" and "cool" when DD does something-I don't think in her mind if I don't respond I'm saying she did a bad job. I just don't think it's damaging her self esteem.

If it bugs you say something, but I agree with a pp you can look at it 2 ways, either focus on the good job part or the fact his engaging in a stimulating environment with an adult who is helping enrich his life.

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Old 06-17-2009, 05:18 PM
 
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I guess my first question would be to ask why your son is in ST. Most kids who are in ST are there because of a language delay, especially at that age, and kids with language delays often do not have the auditory processing that allows them to really understand praising for the process. If you notice "good job" is much easier to understand than almost any phrase you could use to praise the process, like Kohn advocates.

I know I heard chorus' of "oh, he understands a lot more than people give him credit for", but really, it isn't always true. Kids with auditory discrimination or processing issues DON'T understand as much, and if they have non-verbal language delays (not being able to see/read body language, like kids on the autistic spectrum), they are truly missing most of what is being conveyed. Simpler praise cuts through that and lets the kids know when they are on the right track, lets them know when they are doing what they need to do to learn.

Yes, eventually you will be able to praise the process, but it often isn't anything but noise to kids who have a language delay, so it is less than useless to do anything but the simple praise/reward.

It was disconcerting to hear "good job" so much when we started ST, and I seriously wanted to tell the therapist to stop doing that, but I am glad I sat back and let it unfold because it really is what he needed at that time. As long as the therapist seems nice and interacts in a positive way with your child, I would just leave it alone. It is done purposefully with scientifically supported data, and it will greatly interfere with their ability to meet the ST goals if you take away that fundamental tool for them.

For some kids, my oldest included, they had to take it a step back and reward with and m&m/skittles along with the "good job", and then fade the food rewards. Eventually they will be able to fade the "good job" and it will be more natural, process-type praises, but that won't be for a while yet. Just give it time.

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Old 06-17-2009, 07:09 PM
 
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For the people wondering about why "good job" can be bad http://www.alfiekohn.org/parenting/gj.htm

The part down to the bottom with suggestions of what to do instead of saying "good job" is especially helpful in understanding the idea.
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Old 06-17-2009, 07:15 PM
 
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I agree with Alfie Kohn, but I don't think it's a big deal when people other than the parents do it. Your child's sense of self-worth is determined by his parents, not other adults - particularly those with whom he'll have only a temporary relationship.
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Old 06-17-2009, 07:18 PM
 
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I guess my first question would be to ask why your son is in ST. Most kids who are in ST are there because of a language delay, especially at that age, and kids with language delays often do not have the auditory processing that allows them to really understand praising for the process. If you notice "good job" is much easier to understand than almost any phrase you could use to praise the process, like Kohn advocates.
But it seems like this therapist is using it for everything the OP's ds was doing and not just for work related to the therapy.

I don't see why a child getting speech therapy would need any kind of praise for playing with playdough. Really, the Kohn suggestion to ask the child to tell about the playdough or even just describe what the child is doing with the playdough seem like they'd be a more useful option if there is some therapeutic need to talk to the child about their play.
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Old 06-17-2009, 10:13 PM
 
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But it seems like this therapist is using it for everything the OP's ds was doing and not just for work related to the therapy.

I don't see why a child getting speech therapy would need any kind of praise for playing with playdough. Really, the Kohn suggestion to ask the child to tell about the playdough or even just describe what the child is doing with the playdough seem like they'd be a more useful option if there is some therapeutic need to talk to the child about their play.
I wasn't there, obviously, but it is very likely that what didn't appear to be work related to therapy actually was work related to therapy. The first part of ST is building repoire and seeing how well their receptive language and play ability is.

I understand why over praising is bad. Truly, I do. However, the game changes a LOT when dealing with receptive delays. Like I said, commenting on the process might just be noise and totally not hitting their brains, so it doesn't do a dang thing for their self esteem or self motivation. Alphie Kohn has valid points IRT typically developing children. However, his theories don't hold the same validity when dealing with language delays. It would be like saying that you should always speak Klingon around the child instead of saying "good job"....Klingon doesn't register, but a simple "good job" does.

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Old 06-17-2009, 10:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi, JenniferZ--OP here. My son is in ST because he is having difficulty with expressive language. His language comprehension is above age level. This was assessed by a team of therapists and he is functioning above his age in regard to comprehension. He's a smart guy and understands everything that is told to him, follows complicated directions etc. He's just having trouble expressing himself with words (he signs).

So, I see what you are saying, but in this case, he understands and hears just fine.
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