I recently read somewhere that you should not say, “Good Job!” to your kids. Apparently these two seemingly innocuous words will screw with your child’s psyche and he/she will be doomed for life because it will give them a false sense of self due to praise directed toward the outcome instead of recognizing their hard effort for task completion…. (big inhale)… Instead, you are supposed to say, “You really worked hard. You must be proud of yourself.” This statement puts the emphasis on the achievement and the work involved and helps the child to internalize the greatness of their doings as their own without shifting the focus to parental approval.
Okay. So, your tellin’ me that when my boy shows me a picture he drew of our family while I am making dinner and juggling two other hooligans I can no longer yell, “Good job, sweetie! I love it!” over my shoulder.
(Do you think he knows I’m not pregnant anymore? Sorry. Digression.)
In the midst of the chaos I must remind myself of how those words are detrimental to his health. And it would be all-my-fault. I just learned about the negative side effects of a good old fashioned “good job” a few weeks ago. I can only hope that 4 years of “good job-ing” my son hasn’t screwed him up too badly. And then I got to thinking. If “good job” is such damaging phrase, what else have I said to my kids that could potentially destroy their chances of becoming independent, self-sufficient, confident, happy people….????
Here is what I came up with followed by my own analysis of the potential damage factor which shall be abbreviated as PDF. (Please keep in mind that I do not have a degree in psychology, but this whole “good job” thing really got my wheels turning):
1. If you guys don’t start listening to me I am going to have the police come to our house to make sure you are behaving!!!
PDF: This statement imposes a false threat while simultaneously undermining my own authority which may result in a loss of respect from my children coupled with a feeling of betrayal… and I’m pretty sure Officer Friendly wouldn’t be too happy with this either.
2. You can let mommy help you brush your teeth or we can let your teeth rot and then the dentist will have to drill your teeth. Brush or drill. Your choice.
PDF: While giving my children a choice is a good technique for helping them gain a sense of control, this statement borders being a scare tactic which consequently pigeon-holes my son into doing what I want him to do because the second choice is so horrifying, thus undermining his own sense of self and ability to make sound choices.
3. Get up. You’re fine! (said to my son who has just fallen off his bike and is crying.)
4. If you eat all your carrots you will get big and strong like Daddy.
PDF: This white lie may stick with my child forever and when he grows up he’ll likely realize that carrots have little to do with physical strength. He will proceed to question everything I’ve ever told him deeming our relationship to be based upon deception. Worst case: He will disown me and suggest that his family relocate to be closer to his in-laws.
5. I don’t care if your socks are wrinkly. Let’s go!
PDF: The problematic issues with this statement are two-fold. 1. I am, again, undermining the feelings of my child and deeming them unimportant. 2. I am also rushing my child which I read in another article is yet one more thing parents aren’t supposed to do. I should be sending the message that every moment of life should be cherished and not hurried even if it takes my son 23 minutes to put on his socks and shoes and we are late for school. I am sure the teachers would understand…
Hmmm… right now “Good job” is looking pretty good.
Crap. I also let my kids eat unwashed un-organic grapes last week. I wonder what the anti-good-job-people would have to say about that?
Nobody ever said parenting was easy……please pray for my children.