Final thoughts on the "good job" issue

By | 2:39 PM 2 comments
If you have no clue what I'm talking about here then here then here and finally, here.

After reading back through all my posts, I felt the need to make sure I clarified that I am not advocating not praising your children.

Scripture is clear that we are not to "withhold good from those who deserve it" (Proverbs 3:26) and there is a time and a place to recognize the efforts and accomplishments of your child!

I certainly plan on continuing to encourage Ella and Ezra...I just want to be more aware of the impact of my words and not be lazy with just throwing out a "good job" when there might be other more effective ways of letting them know I am proud of them.

So, what can you say if your kids just do something worth recognizing?

Here are some suggestions from Alfie Kohn (author of "Five Reasons to Stop Saying Good Job):

* Say nothing.

* Say what you saw. A simple statement ("You put your shoes on by yourself" or even just "You did it") tells your child that you noticed. It also lets her take pride in what she did. In other cases, a more elaborate description may make sense. If your child draws a picture, you might provide feedback – not judgment – about what you noticed: "This mountain is huge!" "Boy, you sure used a lot of purple today!"

If a child does something caring or generous, you might gently draw his attention to the effect of his action on the other person: "Look at Abigail’s face! She seems pretty happy now that you gave her some of your snack." This is completely different from praise, where the emphasis is on how you feel about her sharing

* Talk less, ask more. Even better than descriptions are questions. Why tell him what part of his drawing impressed you when you can ask him what he likes best about it? Asking "What was the hardest part to draw?" or "How did you figure out how to make the feet the right size?" is likely to nourish his interest in drawing.

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Kelly Via said...
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Kelly Via said...

I found several good thoughts in this post. I definitely agree with being aware of the words that we choose to praise our children. I also like the 'say what you saw.'

Being an art major, we learned about working with children and their art. The last point you made about less talking and more asking is right on. Asking the child about their drawing and allowing them to tell you about it is the way to go with showing interest in the child's drawing. If you say "Look what a pretty sunshine" and it was supposed to be a beach ball...then the child is sad that they failed at drawing a beach ball. Asking the child questions to get them to tell you about the drawing avoids this issue.