Last week I shared some thoughts on praise and manipulation.
In that post I shared some brutal truths about how I parent, and some ideas about how I would like to parent. I shared my goal to break the habit of hollow, unthinking praise, and the habit of manipulative praise, and turn it into something more worthwhile.
But breaking a habit is not easy, so I’m falling back on my tried and true idea and arming myself with some ‘positive first responses‘. I’m hoping that if I’ve already thought about something better to say than “good job” then I will be more likely to remember it and use it when the time comes.
So I’ve put together a list of 25 alternatives to “good job” and given myself some ideas of when to use them.
25 Alternatives to “Good Job”
Say thank you when you mean it – explain why you are grateful for your child’s actions.
- Thank you for helping with…
- It makes mornings/dinner/outings easier when you…. thank you
- I really appreciate it when you…
- Thank you for doing that… it means I/we can now…
Make an observation based on facts – just say what you see without emotions or judgment.
- We did it together.
- Wow! You made a building/drawing/etc.
- You did it on your own.
- You did x and then y and worked it out.
- You used lots of red paint/blocks/tape/etc.
- You made it really big/small/colourful/complicated/etc.
- That took you a long time, and you did it!
Extend and encourage – extend learning and encourage conversation by asking questions about what you see while also recognising their efforts.
- How did you do that?
- You did X, what will you do now?
- Can you tell me about it?
- What is your favourite part?
- How did you think of that?
Put feelings into words – explain how something makes you feel, help your kids notice how their actions make others feel and acknowledge your children’s own feelings.
- I really enjoy doing this with you.
- I love watching you create/help your sister/play soccer/ etc.
- I’m so proud to be your mum, every day, no matter what.
- Look how happy your friend is when you share/help/smile/etc.
- You kept going, even when it was hard.
- You look so pleased to have done that!
- You made X feel so pleased when you did that.
- It makes you feel good when you do X.
Say nothing – we don’t need to praise every little action, or fill every space with noise. It is enough to sit back and watch our children’s delight in their own achievements
- Say nothing – just smile.
Changing this habit and taking the time to think of something better to say can be hard, and it takes more time and effort, but that is the point. It is next to meaningless if we just let rote praise spew out of our mouths without thinking. Only say something when you mean it, then you won’t notice the time and effort it takes to tell your child how you feel, how excited, or how thankful you are because it will be genuine.
And of course… I’ve made the list alternatives to ‘good job’ into a handy dandy A4 printable poster you can download here.
Are you working on breaking a not so great parenting habit?