Okay so you don’t need to fully stop saying these things, but you DO need to add in some other verbiage when you say these things, or at least start mixing it up. Why? I’ll break it down below. Kids become whatever we say they are and whatever we repeatedly tell them or however we repeatedly describe them. When we get more specific we elicit more of those awesome behaviors and habits we want to see.
Saying “good job” as your go-to positive feedback simply doesn’t do a whole lot. It doesn’t carry much weight (unless your family rarely uses it), it doesn’t communicate much to your child, and it also tells your child to seek your approval. The simple swap here is to say something more specific! It gives your child more to connect to in the feedback. They know which part of what they did was “good” to repeat again. The second swap is to ask a question to them because this elicits their own opinion.
Instead… say these phrases
Good job (on your art) → I can tell you worked hard on this
— Tells them that working hard on something is good
Good job on your writing → It looks like you took your time
— Tells them that taking their time is good
Good job (on something that took a long time) → You’ve been working on that for a long time and you’re finally done! Way to go!
— Tells them you notice their commitment and dedication to a project
Good job (on a drawing or crafty creation) → Wow, I’m impressed. What do you think?
— Tells them you are pleased and encourages them to reflect on their own work
To summarize: be specific or ask a question.
You’re so smart
Yes, we want our kids to be smart, but this is so limiting when it’s all they hear! Elicit even more of the wonderful behaviors you see in your child by calling them out. Here are a few great phrases to add in or sub out:
- You’re such a kind sister
- You just ____. That was really thoughtful.
- You’re a helpful human.
- You’re being _____.
- Your choices were ____ (helpful, thoughtful, considerate, etc.)
HA. Wait, don’t go anywhere. You definitely should keep saying no to your child. What I want you to do is pay attention to whether the answer really is “no.” Here’s what I mean: is it in 5 minutes? Is it when they’ve done their jobs? Is it when you’re done with something?
Here’s why this one’s important: when you say no less often, they are more likely to listen when you say no because it carries more weight.
For example, when your kindergartener asks you to come look at the lego set they just built and you’re in the middle of cleaning up from dinner instead of simply saying “I can’t” — tell them this:
- That’s so exciting you finished your lego set! yay! Take a look – what am I doing right now? Yep, cleaning the dishes. I think I’ll be done in about 10 minutes and I can look then. I’m sooo excited to see it. You can wait here and help me or wait in the play room, which choice are you making?
Put simply, pick more specific words! Once you get in the habit of doing this it gets easy. Be kind to yourself and give yourself some time to get the hang of it. Need some extra support in the meantime? I’m always a click away! Book your quick intro call now to see if I can help you with your parenting challenges.