Good Job! Are we praising our kids too much?

I realize it has been a while since I have written.  I am not sure if that’s good or bad.   My kids might say “good job, mom! stepping away from your computer and taking a break”.

And that brings us to today’s topic.   I read the most interesting blog while I was on vacation.  It was posted on a Montessori School website and was called “Five Reasons to Stop Saying ‘Good Job!'”. I somehow ended up clicking on it through twitter even though my boys are both beyond Montessori years.  Anyhow, I have not been able to stop thinking about and talking about this article. Maybe, because I worry I am a grown up product of the “Good Job” culture.  I am not blaming my parents, teachers, or anyone else for this.   But I am not going to deny it,  I still like it when someone tells me “Good Job” or something like it.    Just in my yoga class this morning, the teacher said “Nice, Lori!”.  And yes, it made me feel good.   Was I really doing anything that deserved praise? Probably not.  But just knowing that she had recognized my efforts pushed me a little more.  

I get what the authors of the Montessori article are saying.   Or at least what I think they are trying to say.  “Good Job” has become overused.   Heck, who hasn’t gotten a good job sticker on homework?  And what grown up employee doesn’t like to hear “Good Job”?

As for saying “Good Job”,  I think I am the worst offender.  At my kids sporting events, I like to compliment every child who comes off the ice or field.  “Nice Job, Good Job, Great Game”.   When I say it to my own kids, they get annoyed with me. They’ll say mom, why are you saying “Good Job?” It wasn’t!

Since reading the article I have started counting how many times a day, I say or hear “Good Job”.   Let’s just say I ran out of fingers and toes.  I said it several times to my husband while we played Eucher on opposing teams.  That didn’t go over so well.  I said it to my kids when they put their plates in the sink.   My husband repeated it several times to my youngest son as they cooked dinner together for their video premier of “Cooking with Dad”.

By continually praising our children’s efforts, I tend to agree with the Montessori school notion that we are programming them to seek praise for everything they do.  Kids need to learn at an early age how to trust their own instincts instead of seeking out affirmation for every move.   Bottom line is, I don’t think it would hurt if we tried to scale back on our use of non descriptive compliments like “Good Job”. Otherwise the children will grow up to be like me.  It’s not all bad, but I do struggle with insecurity.   Even before I publish a blog, I want others to read it first and tell me “good job” before I share it.

I like the notion of turning the tables when a child asks “Do you like it? What do you think?”.  Instead of blurting out Good Job without much thought, ask the child what they think of their work.    Not only do I plan to try this approach with my children,  but also think it could be more effective in day to day situations that arise with adults.

How do you use the phrase good job? Do you think it’s overused? How has it impacted your life, or you child’s life?

Do you think I did a good job explaining the issue? (wink, wink)