Thursday, June 19, 2008
Challenge: Eliminate "Good job"
I read a thought-provoking article on the internet the other day. It is a summary of parenting book by Kohn that argues parents should stop saying "good job" to their children. I, frankly, disagreed with most of it. But I did take one really helpful idea from it. I had never noticed this before, but I say "good job" all the time for just about every positive thing my daughter does. I decided to try not using that phrase, forcing myself instead to really think about the particularities of each situation and my daughter's perspective on what had happened. The result was really positive - over the course of the first day of practicing this I became much more in tune with my daughter, because I was paying more attention to the significance of the individual actions.
Here is an example - My daughter has become an avid door-closer over the past week or so. I found "good job" about to roll off my tongue the first night of my experiment as she was closing a door, but I stopped myself. I realized she was being a big girl, doing a little job that she experiences as being important at this stage of her development. She looked to me to notice - "I closed the door!" she said. Because she saw herself as a big girl, I treated her like one. "Thank you," I said sincerely. She was quite happy with this response.
Another example - We went to the playground, and she finally succeeded in climbing up the slide portion of one of the bigger slides. I've never helped her with this, because I don't think its a particularly good thing to do, and once she realized she couldn't do it she would give up and climb up the stairs instead. Well, she finally did it. A part of me swelled with pride, and "good job" just slipped out. Then I followed it up with an observation of what she had just accomplished (Kohn suggests this) - "You did it! You climbed up that really big slide!" She repeated, "I did it! I did it!"
One more - We were playing with her sticker book. I typically experience this as a rather boring activity from my end. But this time, instead of saying "good job" every time she put the sticker on the page, I observed where she was putting the stickers - "You put the bear on the grass!," "That bear is swimming in the water!," etc. My observations got her thinking, and she started putting more thought into where the stickers went on the page, doing some really silly things with the scene. It turned an otherwise dry activity into fun.
So even if the article is a little over-the-top, I do recommend trying it. If nothing else, its a challenge to spice up the day!