Don't Ever Tell Your Child 'Good Job!'

There have been studies done that prove that when you tell a student "Good job!" over and over, s/he will take less risks, and put forth less effort, for fear of messing up their good thing. Telling students empty phrases will not build self esteem. Students don't get self esteem from adults' meaningless phrases. They get it from their own efforts and actions.

What students want from the adults in their lives is to *notice* them. I say things like "There sure is a lot of empty space over there. Is that for a specific reason?" Instead of passing a judgement on their work, (Good job!) which would have ended our conversation, I have noticed and paid specific attention to their work. Paying attention is the ultimate compliment. Saying "Good job!" is not evidence of the adult paying attention;  it's hollow and empty statement. You said the same thing when they brushed their teeth, shut the door, helped an old lady across the street- "good job" is like breathing with some parents, and it means nothing anymore, especially to your child.

 By answering my judgement-free question about the empty space, the student revisits their own reasons, passes their own judgement, and formulates a plan of action. This is more helpful than empty praise.  I actually plan for failure in my curriculum, and for the students to struggle and emerge victorious, because overcoming obstacles, achievement is what builds self esteem, not the teacher or parent who never wants the child to be unhappy, for even one second. Your child will not miss the phrase. And they will adore the fact you actually see and notice their struggles and efforts.


Magda Ksiazak said...

Is it just me or do you have an unusually high occurrence of spam comments here?

As always, I appreciate your psychologizing. ;)

Brandi Martin said...

Thanks, Maggie! I get excited about readers, then I see many are bots. Oh, Bots.