Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job

Tanya - posted on 05/21/2010 ( 30 moms have responded )

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1 it manipulates children
Suppose you offer a verbal reward to reinforce the behavior of a two-year-old who eats without spilling, or a five-year-old who cleans up her art supplies. Who benefits from this? Is it possible that telling kids they’ve done a good job may have less to do with their emotional needs than with our convenience?

2 creates praise junkie
Mary Budd Rowe, a researcher at the University of Florida, discovered that students who were praised lavishly by their teachers were more tentative in their responses, more apt to answer in a questioning tone of voice ("Um, seven?"). They tended to back off from an idea they had proposed as soon as an adult disagreed with them. And they were less likely to persist with difficult tasks or share their ideas with other students.


3 steals childs pleasure
Every time we say, "Good job!", though, we’re telling a child how to feel.

4 losing interest
Indeed, an impressive body of scientific research has shown that the more we reward people for doing something, the more they tend to lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward. Now the point isn’t to draw, to read, to think, to create – the point is to get the goody, whether it’s an ice cream, a sticker, or a "Good job!

5 reducing achievement
As if it weren’t bad enough that "Good job!" can undermine independence, pleasure, and interest, it can also interfere with how good a job children actually do. Researchers keep finding that kids who are praised for doing well at a creative task tend to stumble at the next task – and they don’t do as well as children who weren’t praised to begin with.
http://www.alfiekohn.org/parenting/gj.ht...

What do you think

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Amy - posted on 05/22/2010

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Early childhood experts do say to stay away from this phrase in general. We want kids to become intrinsically motivated, not motivated to do something so they get praise. I do agree that people go overboard with it, using the phrase I mean. But also I am not in total agreement that you can never say that to your child. I certainly do. The suggstions to replace the generic phrase "Good job" is to point out what the child is doing specifically. Such as "Wow, you picked all your toys up all by yourself!" or "Look how hard you are working on your picture" or "You ate all of your peas!" It draws attention to what the child has either accomplished or what the child is working on. Good job obiously makes the child feed good, but is it really the most effective way to praise? Research does show that the long term affect of general praising can sometimes create a child who is what was referred to as "praise junkie". It can also cause the child to not really know what is good about what he did. It can also cause a child to feel like he always has to do a "good" job. This may sound silly, but it has been researched and it is what I've been taught and what professionals at many conferences I"ve attended will also say. I am certainly not saying to never praise your child, but start looking for ways to be more specific and instead of saying just good job, point out what they are doing and the reference on how they did it! Hope this makes sense!

Charlie - posted on 05/23/2010

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Again its all about expressing yourself clearly through communication , most of us when disciplining will use words to explain why their actions were not acceptable for example " i dont like that " could mean anything and leave a child thinking "what is it ive done they dont like ? " instead we say " i dont like when you throw your toys , it makes mummy upset that you dont care for them , please put them down gently on the table "
The same should apply to praise , instead of just "good job " we should elaborate on it by saying " You did a great job of listening to me , it makes mummy feel happy when you listen "

I agree that too much praise sets an unrealistic view and expectation of the world outside of home and school , it can be a real slap in the face when they enter the work force when all they have ever been told is how amazing they are at everything .

Amy - posted on 05/23/2010

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Dana, I think saying "Good istening" or "Good sharing" is fine because you are specifically pointing out the positive behavior that you want Roxanne to continue doing. Just saying "Good joB" could mean anything.

Jaime - posted on 05/22/2010

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I can see what the article is saying about us creating those feelings for our kids...but at the same time I wonder if it's just about balance? I don't know...I think that for every positive there is an equal and opposite negative. Too much of a good thing isn't good for anyone, so I suppose the article does make a point. I would like to think, however; that I am helping to build up a strong sense-of-self with my Son...and not trying to manipulate his emotions about something.

Rebecca - posted on 05/26/2010

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I think by praising a child you build self esteem and they are willing to try new things. Who cares if my son likes to be told he does something good. I want my kids to feel good about the things they accomplish in life. I'm going to assume the same person who wrote that study is pro spanker and doesn't think their is a negative effect with it. My son even tells me now good job when i go pee on the toilet and we celebrate. I love it!

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Charlie - posted on 06/01/2010

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Cooper actually praises himself LOL he will stack blocks into a huge tower and come running over to us and start clapping and saying "yaaaaaaaay" Its so cute !

Kristin - posted on 06/01/2010

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Too much praise and it ceases to have value. Too little and your child feels their effort has no value and possibly themselves as well. It really is all about balance.

Meghan - posted on 06/01/2010

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I just want to say that I often use the word "awesome" to pump up J's ego (haha)....a few days ago he started saying it back and it is the FREAKIN cutest thing I have ever heard! I tell him dinner is ready "awesome mommy!", Tell him we have to go to the store to buy milk "awesome mommy!"..I walk to the bathroom...he actually says "mommy pee...awesome!" HA...such a ham..it may be possible that I over do it and therefore he is now over doing it, but it is nice to get encouragment from SOMEONE for things I have been doing for years...lol.

Tanya - posted on 05/26/2010

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No he is not a pro spanker.
I think he is just trying to say that you can over do it

[deleted account]

I think I have the perfect example for you... working in childcare, I once saw a child trying to get a teachers attention about their piece of artwork. The teacher wasn't really paying attention and glanced down, saying "yeah, that's really great, good on you!". The problem was that the child hadn't finished their picture and was trying to get the teachers attention about their felt pen that wasn't working and was therefore looking pretty crappy on their picture. Definitely a case of praise not being necessary!

Meghan - posted on 05/25/2010

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I am sorry ladies, I just don't see it! How can you over do praising a young child??? I may be getting myself in waay over my head but I am genuine with everything I praise J on! Once he learns something new, I praise the crap out of him! Or if he does something that he already knows how to do and runs up to me clapping and smiling, I tell him he did awesome, give him a high 5 and tell him I am proud of him. Like I said maybe I over compinsate b/c I never heard it growing up but it would break my heart if he didn't internally feel like I was his no.1 go to person!

Jaime - posted on 05/25/2010

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this def got me thinking. I constantly give my 19 month old praise by telling her she's a good girl or that she did a good job. I never thought that I could over do it. Maybe now ill think twice about constantly praising her for everything b/c some of this does make some sense.

Amanda - posted on 05/25/2010

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personally i think this is not something I would follow, I was praised for doing good jobs when I was younger, and if the job wasn't done well enough then I was told I only got the praise when I deserved it and I don't think i am screwed up in anyway and frankly I am and will continue to praise my son when he does a good job for something, and all of the other children that I will have...on the other hand I do see some of the points in what you were saying but still I will continue praise because I feel that letting your child know that they do a good job at things helps with self esteem, other wise they could start feeling like why are they trying to do thing in the first place when know one seems to notice or care, my father is an example, spent his whole life trying to get approvel from his mother (who has passed away with cancer a year ago) and never got it nothing he ever did in his life ever got your doing a good job or I am proud of you and it took a very sad toll on him, but they never did that to me or my sister and that is why I praise my son....

Amy - posted on 05/24/2010

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Nicole, excellent example. This little boy expects to be praised for anything he does. How will he cope as an adult? That is exactly what I believe this article was trying to accomplish. We need to geninuinly praise for specific accomplishments, or even when a child is just trying their best at something they haven't mastered yet. It comes down to encouragement that they can do it. Not just telling the kid they are super great. I know parents are working hard to make sure their child has a positive self concept, but as many others have mentioned, it is balance and sencerity.

[deleted account]

Sticky subject. There is no problem with using or saying "Good job" the problem is when it is over used.
I have seen parents praise their children to death and not sound genuine and that is when it is a problem --when the praise no longer sounds or feels genuine.
When it crosses into the land of fake, cheery, syrupy gushing even children will notice and then not feel so great because they know that it's not real.

There is nothing wrong with praising a child for finally accomplishing a task they have been striving to achieve for awhile. Praising them every single time they do it to excess is over kill.
I currently have a child in care who believes he needs to be cheered for in order to clean up toys because that is what his parents insist on doing.
At this point since I know he can do the skills, I refuse to praise him because when it's clean up time it should be expected that he help clean up, not be cheered to pick up every single item he puts away.
If he does it without insisting (he will actually clap and cheer for himself and get very angry when I don't comply) I will thank him for helping us clean up the toys, which is what I always do with each group. I thank them for helping when they do help.

It always goes back to balance and consistency.

[deleted account]

Hahaha, I watched a show on the different generations (you know, baby boomers, generation x, generation y) and they said exactly the same thing as Loureen... that there are all these people going into the workforce or job interviews thinking "I'm great, and therefore you will be lucky to have me" and then getting a bit of a reality check when they miss out on jobs!

[deleted account]

So what about saying, " Good listening Roxanne! " or " Good sharing Roxanne! ".....is that the same as just saying, " Good job! " ?

[deleted account]

It's all stuff I've heard before, and my opinion is "everything in moderation!"

As an EC teacher, we have been taught to stay away from "good girl" or "good boy" because it merely praises them rather than what it is that they have done well (like what Amy was saying).

Also, we've been taught to avoid praising a child's art work but instead ask "do you like it?" or "what do you like best about it?" because a child may have done a drawing and they hate it for whatever reason, and then a teacher comes along and goes "wow, that's really great", therefore undermining the child's opinion without realising it.

Charlie - posted on 05/23/2010

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I think it can be overused but there is merit in telling someone they have done a good job when they have done just that , i tend to comment more on the effort Cooper puts into things , for example ' you have worked really hard on that cooper , im really proud of you '
if i see that he has finally done something that he has been trying for a while i will tell him its a "good job " or "well done ".

[deleted account]

I think A LOT of people lack common sense.....one of the biggest hurdles for me on COM'S! Sometimes I just gotta shake my head and move on...

Amie - posted on 05/22/2010

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It does make sense Amy. I was hoping that fell under the common sense aspect I had mentioned people lacking, I guess it doesn't though? I dunno.

After being a mom for so long I think my common sense is not what others is a lot of the time. lol I tend to forget that too.

[deleted account]

Sorry, I have to admit that earlier I was in a rush and only skimmed the info in the original post.....I shouldn't have been so quick to dismiss it because after reading it thru properly I do understand the theory behind it. I think like anything else, it needs to be used in moderation!

Amy - posted on 05/22/2010

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Yes, balance. I think the article was a little hard to really understand, especially since it didn't really state what happens long term and other suggestions. Good job isn't a bad thing, it could just be expanded upon, giving the kids exactly what they are doing that you want them to feel good about. It is important to help them gain a strong sense of self and to feel good about themselves. Let me know how it goes!

Jaime - posted on 05/22/2010

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Amy you have made some very good points and I think I'm going to give this a try. It makes complete sense, but I think what you are saying is that it's about balance. Not refraining from using "good job" completely, but not making it a habitual saying either. Your alternative suggestions are a good idea so I'll see how it goes...

[deleted account]

* sticks her tongue out at it *



Gimme a break!!? In that case, we shouldn't say, " Good job! " to anyone...



This would be a great debate topic Tanya!!

Tanya - posted on 05/22/2010

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I do think that the part of the article where he say we could ask a child about a picture they draw instead of saying good job has some value.

I also agree that some people out there will never say it again after reading this.

I post links to him a lot and as I have said before I don't think I could live up to his standard, but it does really challenge me to think

Nikki - posted on 05/22/2010

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I don't agree at all, but don't have time to elaborate right now, will get back to this one later :)

Amie - posted on 05/22/2010

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I just reread this one:

1 it manipulates children
Suppose you offer a verbal reward to reinforce the behavior of a two-year-old who eats without spilling, or a five-year-old who cleans up her art supplies. Who benefits from this? Is it possible that telling kids they’ve done a good job may have less to do with their emotional needs than with our convenience?

LMAO! Right, it's so convenient to teach a 2 year how to properly drink from a cup. Or a 5 year old to clean up after themselves every time without prompting. I'm going to keep saying Good/Great/Awesome job, so long as my kids are learning and remembering.

A great big pfffffffffffffttttttt to this.

Amie - posted on 05/22/2010

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/:) Good grief.

There is nothing wrong with using praise to help teach a child. It's an intricate part of positive reinforcement. It doesn't "make" them stumble nor are they more apt to answer with questions instead of a firm answer. THAT only happens when people go to the extreme.

When parents don't use a balance and encourage them to try. Encourage them to work out the problem. To focus on the task at hand. To teach them to be confident with themselves and their abilities.

I do not understand how praising a child is telling them how to feel either. /:) If I tell my older kids 'Great job! You did awesome!' and they feel they didn't; They will tell me. Then we work on that so that they can get to the 'Great job' status within themselves.

It's all about balance, like most things in life. I wish people would stop going to the extreme with everything. I mostly wish that because, as sad as it is, there are some truly stupid people out there who will read things like this and then take it as an entirely true fact. Not use their own critical thinking skills (not that I'm entirely they have them) and stop saying it altogether. Then we have the other extreme happening, a child with no positive phrases being said to bolster them.

Meghan - posted on 05/21/2010

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I was NEVER told I was doing something well or good growing up...so I think I try to compinsate with Joshua. It is totally genuine though, I can't help but praise the hell out of him!

If he screws something up (lol, that sounds harsh seeing as he is a toddler, but I think you know what I mean) I am quick to encourage him to try again..nice try buddy, one more time!

I think the only thing I would be worried about is the praise junkie issue...mainly because I don't feel alot of people do give enough positive attention. I don't know, I don't see what is wrong with telling a young child that they are doing something so awesome and you are proud of them...there seems to be enough negative in the world to deflate a big ego!

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