Originally Posted by writermommy
When you do praise a child, it should be specific praise. "Good Job" like good girl, is general and meaningless.
A lot of people have come across the idea that saying "good job" is a problem, and mistakenly assumed that the problem is that it's not specific enough. But Alfie Kohn argues pretty persuasively (in Punished by Rewards
and Unconditional Parenting
) that ANY praise that's intended to encourage a child to repeat a behavior can be a problem. It doesn't matter if it's specific or vague.
If my DD is happy and proud about something she did, I'll share in her happiness by saying something like, "You did it!"
If she does something helpful, I generally say, "Thanks" in the same tone I'd use with an adult (not going wild with excitement.)
If she's learning a new skill and I want to let her know when she's doing it right, or when she's achieved the end result I had in mind, I say something like, "Yep, that's right," or "Yes, like that! You did it!"
Often, there's no need to say anything at all about what she's doing. I don't want her to come to expect that everything she does is going to get some comment from me, either positive or negative.
I do show her affection, tell her how much I love her, act delighted to be in her company, etc. all the time. But I try not to use those things as rewards for good behavior. I think she needs them whether she's "good" or "bad."