“good job,” bad idea?

I have been reading some websites about child rearing and have come across some different (weird) theories. Some I agree with and some are way, way out there!

One guy, Alfie Kohn, is one those hippie types, I think. He has one theory that telling kids “good job” is actually a bad idea in the long run. It does not reassure them is actually makes them less secure. One reason is that we (parents) say “good job” when kids clean up by themselves, wash their hands or share- whatever it is, because we are actually lazy and since the kids are doing themselves we get off the hook! Don’t we want our kids to be self sufficient? I sure do. He says that we should do the activities with our kids. When do we let them go? It is great when kids take their dishes to the sink and wash their hands by themselves!  He alo says we are a society of “praise junkies.” I would have to agree, but we all want to hear that we are doing a god job sometimes.

Is this guy nuts, or am I just biased?

8 responses to ““good job,” bad idea?”

  1. No, that guy is nuts. Of course, if the phrase is overused and out of context (ie: saying it any time they do anything at all) then I could see it losing some of its meaning, but the same goes for any common phrase, I guess.

    I think the bottom line is that if your kids have to discern whether you’re sincere in your praise of them based only on the subtle variation in how often you congratulate them and try to decide whether you really mean it based on that, something else has gone wrong.

    Hopefully we can foster relationships with our kids that are good enough that they can be confident in knowing how we feel about them, without worrying about overusing or underusing a particular phrase.

  2. I’m all for saying “good job” but I’m also going to say “no”. I think when you don’t have the two to balance each other the sincerity of the other is diminished. Kids should know there is good and bad. That stuff about kids *just* need love to live and learn is a bunch of hippie crap.

  3. I think this kind of applies to things I do with my kids. I think typically parents like to reward their children with some kind of allowance for doing things like, picking up, making their bed, homework, good attitude…etc, etc. But shouldn’t those things be mandatory….like if you brush your teeth all week without whinning you have a treat…

    I do think parents tend to over reward and praise for things that aren’t always necessary…making kids really needy of some sort of attention for every movement they make.

    I try and practice No, I said no! And no means no approach and a I’m your mother you don’t get to decide…I guess I’m more controlling….but i think kids get too many options today. I’m not 100% all the time, but I’m not going to start saying “good job and here’s your reward” when I expect my son to do things like eat his dinner and pick up his toys.

  4. lisa never got an allowance for chores. she just had to do them and when she wanted something, it was purchased for her. i didn’t get an allowance unless i did my chores. so now i don’t do chores because i don’t get paid for it and lisa doesn’t do chores because no one makes her! i guess my point is that i’ve been leaning much more on the “nature” side of things than the “nurture” side as of lately. i think a parent’s job might be much more about teaching a kid to respect others than it is about teaching a kid to take care of themselves.

  5. hmmm….thinking back I never really got an allowance either. we were just expected to do things and yeah if we need or wanted something it was well um….well mainly we just got it. But then there is the whole, learning to earn or work hard for the things you want…the value of a dollar lesson.

    Freakn’ parenting is tooo complicated! Maybe we should just pick a book and follow it and then if the kid is screwed up blame the author. haha

  6. Well, I do agree that we as parents need to instill in our kids to care for others and think about others feelings when speaking and by their actions. I also think we should teach our kids to be self sufficient too. It is important to teach them to take care of themselves. Like now, the kids I pick up after school do not do much for themselves- food, clean up or chores. They are 9 and 11. They should be able to do some stuff for themselves and by themselves. It is all a part of being a “good citizen.”

  7. I have been trying to notice when I say “good job” and the like. I don’t think I say it too much, but I am trying to say “Thank you…”more often. Like when Avery puts her milk away without my reminding her to or when she put her clothes in the dirty hamper. I sure don’t want her to be a “praise junkie” or be insecure because we tell her she is doing a good job!

  8. plus, it would really suck if she auditions for a national tv show and cries about how you don’t love her and don’t support her!

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