What do you put in the place of "good Job"? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 05:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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i was watching my friends 2yo and 7yo tonight and we were coloring. and when they were all done all i could think to say is good job.

i really want to work on saying something else. i grew up in a house where 'good job' was said a lot. i dont think its a bad thing, but i do think its part of why i can boost my own 'good job' button. i always look for praise. i really look to others to say 'good job' TO ME. i have a hard time just knowing or feeling good about what i did. its something i am working on, but i think its in part to how i was raised...

how or what can be said in place of that? with the 7yo i would say things like "how does it make you feel to color such a wonderful pic", but she is 7 and can express herself.

with the 2yo i dont know what to say other then "good Job". then he says over and over "good job, good job, good job. i do good job".

while i dont think "good Job" is bad. i just want to get into the habit now of not saying it so much. i watch them quite a bit. i have take so much i have learned here and put it to good use with them. almost all of it works like a charm!!! so thanks mamas!

really how bad is good job? what can i put in place of that for a 2yo? what more can i say to the 7yo? am i just crazy and good job is just fine?

any and all advice is much wanted!

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#2 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 05:19 AM
 
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"You did it!" works well when you can't think of anything better to say.
"I see that you colored a picture!" or similar statements of fact. You're still showing your interest without judging it.
"Did you have fun?" or other questions related to what's going on. Again, interest without judgment.

It doesn't take too long before you stop saying Good Job and the alternatives take over. I'm like you...I think I look for approval all the time because of how I was raised. I can't just enjoy my work...I need someone to praise it. I hate it!
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#3 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 05:33 AM
 
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Alfie Kohn touches on this in Unconditional Parenting. I imagine he goes deeper into it in Punished By Rewards but I've not read that one.

Quote:
"You did it!" works well when you can't think of anything better to say.
"I see that you colored a picture!" or similar statements of fact. You're still showing your interest without judging it.
"Did you have fun?" or other questions related to what's going on. Again, interest without judgment.

It doesn't take too long before you stop saying Good Job and the alternatives take over. I'm like you...I think I look for approval all the time because of how I was raised. I can't just enjoy my work...I need someone to praise it. I hate it!
These are good suggestions. I do this with my toddler. And she's right, once you get started on those types of behaviors with the intention of continuing the 'good jobs' become less.
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#4 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 05:46 AM
 
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You can often say "Thank you for doing X" instead of good job. This is less appropriate for colouring but more appropriate for chores, getting dressed, picking up, etc.
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#5 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 07:10 AM
 
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For drawings, once we've discussed everything dc want to, I say, "Thank you for showing me your drawing. I love seeing the development of (that character, your ornamentation, etc...)." But even with our 2 yr old, when he shows me a drawing, I treat him and his drawing with interest and respect, so given my interests as well, I ask him questions like, "Did you draw this line very fast?" To which he'll likely say yes because his drawings are about his physical experience in drawing them right now. Then I'll confirm, "I thought so. It's dark and straight!"

I ask him questions about his choice of instrument: "Did you use a pencil for this?" "What would happen if you tried that with a marker/crayon/pen/etc...?"

I talk in depth about the drawings of the others because they are drawing for content and accuracy right now, to differing degrees and with different interests- for story-telling, character development for their stories, interactive drawing stories, diagramming various natural phenomena- weather patterns, parts of the earth, animals- habitat, anatomy, habits, elaborately designed ornamentation, etc....

My eldest wants artistic critique, so I give him that. I was an artist once...

Anyway, I just talk to my children with the same level of consideration and respect as I would an adult I loved and respected. They are competent and don't need the 'little' or abridged version of communication, imo.

And as pp have already written, because I don't use overt or specific praise, I am just more inclined to openly talk to my dc as opposed to evaluate them. So, I mean that I don't say anything to replace 'good job' because that sort of evaluation isn't in my vocabulary to begin with.

They receive my encouragement in myriad ways, so not praising doesn't mean not showing excitement or interest. I jump up and down too, and exclaim with complete sincerity, "Oh, sweetie! That's just beautiful!!! Keep doing that!!!" which is an evaluation, but I'm including it here because sometimes something is just so exciting that even a freethinker like me cannot help but do it. Usually I still express what I see or feel and there are lots of hugs and shoulder pats too, that go with the response. I am not robotic without 'good job'.

I would express my excitement the same way to an adult, but I wouldn't even think of saying, 'good job' to anyone- child or adult.

I cannot stand being told, 'good job' and my dc don't like it either. We had to discuss this specifically last year because a friend was saying it incessantly to my dc, and they were shutting down and avoiding my friend. We had never discussed it with them at all ever; they just felt disrespected because they had not been under such constant scrutiny before, even if it seemed positive to my friend.

So, we decided to tell our boys that they are free to ask our friend to just speak to them the way she would to an adult. Our ds2, then 4 yrs old, did! I was surprised that she so quickly understood his issue, but she did and asked him if he would like her just to say 'thank you' instead, and he replied emphatically, "YES!" She had told him, "Good job!" for bringing her the shoes she just finished asking him to give to her. Obviously it is an automatic response for her, but in reality, it is absurd to evaluate his 'job' of bringing shoes to her according to her request. "Thank you' is the culturally appropriate response to when someone obliges a request.

The issue I have and that Kohn and others have expressed, with praise, is that it removes the child's place to evaluate him/herself, and amongst other results, removes the intrinsic value of their work or accomplishment by presuming it requires praise to give it value. It is also a barrier to open conversation. How often do you love to engage in open dialogue with someone who responds with evaluations of everything you present? It's tedious at best and demeaning at the other end, imo. Children have the same response, ime.

My dh and other friends didn't believe me until I asked them to watch how much conversation they have with their/our dc after they've stated their evaluation of 'good job.' They were astonished to discover that it's the conversation stopper, and if it was the first thing expressed, it's the only thing expressed. Children shut down- even talkative ones and even dc who have been raised without it can be shut down once they realise they are being evaluated. Even my 26 month old is aware of this. It's so common that we have lots of opportunities to observe the dynamics of this sort of interaction.

If you are unsure of its effect, stop doing it for a while so dc can acclimate to more open conversation, and then add a 'good job' here and there and observe.

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#6 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 08:58 AM
 
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I think "Well Done" would also be perfect..
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#7 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 11:11 AM
 
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We use 'well done'.

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#8 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 11:24 AM
 
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You did it! is good. Statements of fact about what was done, descriptions of what you like, as in, "I like the flower and butterfly over here." The thing is to not evaluate so much, but rather to describe or talk about how we feel instead of how the child is. I think "well done" and "good job" are basically the same thing.
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#9 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 11:45 AM
 
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I've had this list hanging on my fridge for 9 years now!

http://www.cta.org/community/family/...+Very+Good.htm

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#10 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 11:50 AM
 
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Another thing I've read is that it is much better to talk about effort than the result. "It looks like you worked really hard on that!" is really empowering to a child.
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#11 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 12:36 PM
 
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There is some very good insight here, I really like the advice. I am curious also how to respond to children without a 'conversation stoppper' like 'good job'. My dss is 5 and his mother usually uses 'that makes mommy proud' or 'thank you for doing X that makes mommy happy'... And that got me thinking.... That can't be too healthy for dss, he is basing his actions on how they make others 'feel'. And it showed when, in a soccer game, we watched him punch a kid, looked around, and continue playing. When dh mentioned he saw it dss proudly said that coach and mommy didn't, as if that made it OK....
Now, I could be wrong on this, so someone correct me if I am, but constantly saying how dc actions make you feel doesn't seem right. I would like to know because 1) I would like to use this with dss and 2) dh and I have ds (7 mo) and we are always wanting to learn and do the best for him, as all parents do....

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#12 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 01:30 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Icehockey18 View Post
There is some very good insight here, I really like the advice. I am curious also how to respond to children without a 'conversation stoppper' like 'good job'. My dss is 5 and his mother usually uses 'that makes mommy proud' or 'thank you for doing X that makes mommy happy'... And that got me thinking.... That can't be too healthy for dss, he is basing his actions on how they make others 'feel'. And it showed when, in a soccer game, we watched him punch a kid, looked around, and continue playing. When dh mentioned he saw it dss proudly said that coach and mommy didn't, as if that made it OK....
Now, I could be wrong on this, so someone correct me if I am, but constantly saying how dc actions make you feel doesn't seem right. I would like to know because 1) I would like to use this with dss and 2) dh and I have ds (7 mo) and we are always wanting to learn and do the best for him, as all parents do....
You hit the nail on the head. When their motivation begins to come from outside of them, look out! :-)

Sometimes silence or a smile is just the thing. I understand how this can be hard if you've already been praising a lot and your child LOOKS for it because he's used to it. But to anyone just starting out, I'd say keep as quiet as you can.

I practice what I preach as much as possible, but it's hard. My child is a prolific artist who does extraordinary work (at age 6) (he's on the potty right now drawing a glockenspiel), and he's never been instructed (we are all artists; it's genetic and being a homeschooler he's surrounded by it all day). And believe me I want to jump up and down and wave my arms when I see some of the stuff he comes up with. But I zip my lip while he's working on it. His motivations are internal and he is self-directed. The other night he was up at 11:30 pm and I asked when he planned on going to bed. He sat there in bed, in the dark, with his miner's light on his head and a sketch pad in his lap, drawing in detail every member of the percussion family of instruments.

He shows drawings to me and frankly I long ago ceased banning "that's great" from my reaction because heck, it IS great. But I am not trying to encourage him (i.e. get him to DO something)...my praise is my honest reaction. It's hard to keep it in check. But I also know that he is EXTREMELY internally motivated and self-directed. So if I just stand back and keep my mouth shut, he will do great things regardless of my opinions of them. :-)
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#13 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 02:21 PM
 
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Some examples I use.

For artwork and such:
I love it! Tell me about it.
Wow, you put a lot thought into that.
You paid a lot of attention to detail.
What made you choose those colors?
How interesting, I wouldn't have thought to do it that way.
sometimes I just describe the picture - Look at that. I see a purple elephant and a blue flower, etc.

For chores and stuff:
Thank you. (plus perhaps one of the following)
I really enjoyed your help.
That made my work go faster.
You stuck with it to the end.
Oh goody, now the house is clean and we can play.
You/we made fast work of that.
That showed a lot of responsibility/caring/perseverance/hard work.

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#14 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 02:27 PM
 
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I like to say something specific about the picture, "I see that you used red, yellow, and orange," or make a totally open statement like "tell me about your picture." When my kids were little they enjoyed talking about what they had done, even it when it just looked like big splashes of color.

In a similar vein, when they started in little activities like swim lessons, I tried to make neutral comments at the end like "it really looked like you had fun" rather than than telling them how good they did, how proud I was, etc.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#15 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 02:47 PM
 
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For something like coloring, I think saying nothing at all is usually the best response. (Unless the kid is proudly showing you the picture and asking for a response.) I don't want my kids to feel like I'm watching and judging every single thing they do, and that it's important for them to hear my opinions on all of it, even their coloring. I think it's fine to agree with the kid that his coloring is good - I don't even have a problem with saying, "Yeah, good job!" if you're just agreeing with your kid's own assessment. But offering an unsolicited comment, even a neutral one like, "I see you've colored a picture," can give the message that everything your kid does is really important to you, and that level of interest can feel intimidating.
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#16 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 04:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you mamas. you all are so great to learn from! i am blessed to have found MDC before i have kids of my own!

can anyone think of other places to use this type of thing? i saw chores and artwork. and i LOVE all the suggestions!!!

i want this to become habit NOW!!!

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#17 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 04:30 PM
 
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Maybe it's just my age, or maybe it's just my parents were more restrained, but I never heard "good job" as a kid and am annoyed when anyone says it now. There are a lot of substitutes depending on the situation -- describing it and saying how it makes you feel usually work. For chores "thanks for helping" is pretty much what I say.
I rarely received praise as a kid and have/had low self-esteem, probably because of the schools. I think my depressed mom was overwhelmed, too.

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#18 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 04:40 PM
 
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Here is my favorite fridge magnet!
101 Ways to Praise a Child!

WOW • WAY TO GO • SUPER • YOU'RE SPECIAL • OUTSTANDING • EXCELLENT •
GREAT• GOOD • NEAT • WELL DONE • REMARKABLE • I KNEW YOU COULD DO IT • I'M PROUD OF YOU • FANTASTIC • SUPER STAR • NICE WORK • LOOKING GOOD • YOU'RE ON TOP OF IT • BEAUTIFUL • NOW YOU'RE FLYING • YOU'RE CATCHING ON • NOW YOU'VE GOT IT • YOU'RE INCREDIBLE • BRAVO • YOU'RE FANTASTIC • HURRAY FOR YOU • YOU'RE ON TARGET • YOU'RE ON YOUR WAY • HOW NICE • HOW SMART • GOOD JOB • THAT'S INCREDIBLE • HOT DOG • DYNAMITE • YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL • YOU'RE UNIQUE • NOTHING CAN STOP YOU NOW • GOOD FOR YOU • I LIKE YOU YOU'RE A WINNER • REMARKABLE JOB • BEAUTIFUL WORK • SPECTACULAR • YOU'RE SPECTACULAR • YOU'RE DARLING • YOU'RE PRECIOUS • GREAT DISCOVERY • YOU'VE DISCOVERED THE SECRET • YOU FIGURED IT OUT • FANTASTIC JOB • HIP, HIP, HURRAY • BINGO • MAGNIFICENT • MARVELOUS • TERRIFIC • YOU'RE IMPORTANT • PHENOMENAL • YOU'RE SENSATIONAL • SUPER WORK • CREATIVE JOB • SUPER JOB • FANTASTIC JOB • EXCEPTIONAL PERFORMANCE • YOU'RE A REAL TROOPER • YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE • YOU ARE EXCITING • YOU LEARNED IT RIGHT • WHAT AN IMAGINATION •WHAT A GOOD LISTENER • YOU ARE FUN • YOU'RE GROWING UP • YOU TRIED HARD • YOU CARE • BEAUTIFUL SHARING • OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE • YOU'RE A GOOD FRIEND • I TRUST YOU • YOU'RE IMPORTANT • YOU MEAN A LOT TO ME • YOU MAKE ME HAPPY • YOU BELONG • YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND • YOU MAKE ME LAUGH • YOU BRIGHTEN MY DAY • I RESPECT YOU • YOU MEAN THE WORLD TO ME • THAT'S CORRECT • YOU'RE A JOY • YOU'RE A TREASURE • YOU'RE WONDERFUL • YOU'RE PERFECT • AWESOME • A+ JOB • YOU'RE A-OK MY BUDDY • YOU MADE MY DAY • THAT'S THE BEST • A BIG HUG • A BIG KISS • SAY I LOVE YOU!

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#19 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 04:46 PM
 
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I'm a big believer that praise should be very specific. So if they are coloring, I'd say something like "Wow! It looks like you used a lot of red and purple! Oh and look at the blue circles!" I just pick something out from their picture and comment on it.
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#20 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 05:17 PM
 
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Another thing I've read is that it is much better to talk about effort than the result. "It looks like you worked really hard on that!" is really empowering to a child.
My only issue with this is that....if someone said that to me....it doesn't mean I was successful, or the task was done well....it just means I worked hard on it. If I show people my artwork I like people to appreciate/critique the final product not go on about how hard it must have been and that it took a lot of effort....not being snarky...JMPOV

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#21 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 05:29 PM
 
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I typically say to DD (and did when she was little, too) something like: "You built a tower!" or "You colored a house!" and then ask her a couple of questions about what she's done. To me (and I hope to her) it showed that I was paying attention and engaged. "Good job" always struck me as the equivalent of "yeah, yeah, whatever."

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#22 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 05:51 PM
 
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My only issue with this is that....if someone said that to me....it doesn't mean I was successful, or the task was done well....it just means I worked hard on it. If I show people my artwork I like people to appreciate/critique the final product not go on about how hard it must have been and that it took a lot of effort....not being snarky...JMPOV
Well, that's kind of the whole point of not praising kids in that way (good job, etc), so that kids internally decide if what they've done is of value and don't feel the need to have their artwork and everything else judged by others to decide if it was worth their time. It's about helping kids become internally motivated rather than externally motivated.
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#23 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 08:13 PM
 
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Well, that's kind of the whole point of not praising kids in that way (good job, etc), so that kids internally decide if what they've done is of value and don't feel the need to have their artwork and everything else judged by others
In some ways, telling a child they did something "well" is like telling them they did it "poorly." In both cases, the parents first message is "I can judge what you do and decide it is good enough or not."

Getting away from constantly making judgements about everything our kids do is goal for some of us because we hope that by doing so, our kids will develop their own reason for what they do and make rather than focusing on our (and later other people's) approval.

I thing about switching to this style is that it takes more thought. You have to really look a the picture and find something to say about. It's more complex than just giving a standard parent stamp of approval like "good job."

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#24 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 08:22 PM
 
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I didn't read all the responses so I apologize if I'm repeating anything...

But I would say something like, "I love your choice of colors" or "That picture makes me feel so happy (or sad, or lonely, or energized, etc.)" or "Do you want to put it on the fridge"... something on that idea. I guess what I'm getting at is, kind of model an emotional response to it. As they get older you can start to shift it from YOUR reaction to THEIR reaction... "The picture makes me feel happy, how does it make you feel?" and later just, "How does that make you feel"... KWIM?

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#25 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 08:30 PM
 
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So here's a question: My little people always will ask: "Do you like it?" Now I am not sure if they want praise or if they just want an opinion. Is an opinion like praise? If you say you like what they have done, isn't that to them the same as praise? Then they will say...."Yes I like it but don't you like it too?" If you say that it is more important that THEY like it, will it make them think that you just don't want to say you don't like it after all?

Do any of you see where I am going with this question? I have absolutely NO idea how to answer this round of their questioning. It's very confusing and makes me want to say any way: "I really like your work. You did a good job on it."

What to do?

 

 

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#26 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 08:37 PM
 
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I haven't read all the responses.

I say "thank-you for" whatever if it is something that makes my life easier or talk about what I see and my own genuine feelings in relationship to whatever "Wow, I'm surprised that you can kick the ball that far! I didn't know you could do that." or "It really makes me happy to see how kind you are being to your little brother today. I can tell that you are trying so hard to be patient with him.
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#27 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 09:31 PM
 
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Honestly I don't see a lot of the replies as being very different from "Good job!". "Well done" is the same thing. Unless it's a specific comment, I can't see anything to distinguish the phrases other than different phraseology. I also am amazed that so many children let the comments drop with some of these. Anytime I told my children "Look! You colored a cat!" they always looked at me like I was a moron stating the obvious.
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#28 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 10:57 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by momo7 View Post
So here's a question: My little people always will ask: "Do you like it?" Now I am not sure if they want praise or if they just want an opinion. Is an opinion like praise? If you say you like what they have done, isn't that to them the same as praise? Then they will say...."Yes I like it but don't you like it too?"
What about telling them you like (since they seem to need to hear that) but then trying to pivot to more of a conversation. Something like, "I DO like you picture. I notice you've (insert specific comment). Tell me more about your picture/what you were thinking/etc."

I've been pondering this issue for over a decade (my oldest is 13). I think it is normal and even healthy for kids to want their parents to like what they've done. I also think there are times as kids get older that we parents WANT them to value our opinion on whether or not what they've done is good enough (such as grades in core subjects in middle school ).

However, it really isn't healthy for a child to need mommy to love everything they do. Ultimately, it not only makes their voice weak compared to our approval, it makes their voice weak compare to their peers approval. We can help them find their own voice and the joy in expressing themselves by taking a step back from passing judgement on everything.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#29 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 11:10 PM
 
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If my children bring me something to look at because they want to share it I say something like oh that's what you have been doing... which bit do you like best?/Your man has massive eyes!/I like the blue you picked.

I don't think it is bad to give an opinion as well as state facts. Giving my children some praise gives them a little lift and I don't think that hurts at all.

When my dd won a 2nd place medal in her first gymnastics competition I couldn't help but praise her because she was bouncing about with joy. If I had said "I see you balanced well on the beam" that would have been a bit of a damp squib kwim?

She is the first of my children to do a competitive sport like this and it was quite off for us to see her perform and that she is obviously very good at what she was doing.

Never having your mum say anything glowing about what you do would make a kid a bit sad I think.
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#30 of 61 Old 01-08-2010, 11:56 PM
 
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I didn't read the comments, but I say...

Oh wow, tell me about it?
What is this?
I like the colours you chose.
How does this picture make you feel?
Did you enjoy that?
Would you like to hang it up, keep it, toss it, give it to someone?

Works well for me.

Birth Attendant. Placenta Encapsulator. Reiki Practitioner. Vegan. Aspiring Midwife. Breastfeeding Educator Student. Two years of trying for our love child.
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