Don’t say, “Good job!” Have you lost your mind?! That was my exact thought when my Applied Parenting teacher did a lesson on encouragement vs praise. This was the most mind blowing lesson I have ever had because I could see how much my husband and I struggle with this.
The article that goes with that lesson is, “Five Reasons to Stop Saying ‘Good Job!” and it explains that when we praise people, more specifically children, we are taking their accomplishment and turning it what we think. When someone accomplishes something it should not matter what we think, if they feel proud of their work then that is what is important. After time, this can cause someone to feel successful only when someone else is proud of their accomplishments.
Instead of saying good job, we can turn the attention back to their feelings. My teacher used an example of a child showing a picture they drew and asking what you think. Rather than responding, “Oh wow! Good job,” like I always do. A more motivating response would be something like, “Oh wow! I can tell you worked so hard on this picture. You have colored it with a lot of red. Tell me more about your picture.” It gets them to focus what they accomplished and why they are proud of it. It also allows you to point out the character traits they are learning with what they accomplished, like hard work, determination, creativity, etc. That has a longer lasting effect then your pride in them.
I struggle a lot with worrying about what other people think and I thrive off of peoples praise, especially my husbands and vice versa. When I clean the house or make dinner I need him to tell me that I did a good job or I feel as if I didn’t do a good enough job. I can not let whether or not my husband praises my work affect me because he can’t always notice every little thing I do and take pride in it. If I worked hard on something, feeling proud and accomplished in myself needs be enough. If he happens to notice great, if not it will no longer be the reason for feeling failure. So, now I am training myself to make it enough. The same goes for my husband so we both have been working hard to not praise each other but to instead encourage each other.
I have to admit that it has been so awkward! My husband comes home and tells me that he aced a test and my first response wants to be, “Oh my goodness! I am so proud of you!” Then that be the end of the conversation. Instead, I try to think something encouraging and it comes out, “Oh… well… You worked hard,” That just makes me cringe typing it! But it is awkward because I am not use to it yet. Luckily, I have been practicing and it’s getting to be less unnatural. Last week my husband was excited that he got an A on a paper he was super stressed about and I was able to say something more smoothly along the lines of, “That is so awesome! I saw how hard you worked on that paper and I am glad that teacher was also able to appreciate that. How do you feel about it? What parts did you feel most proud about?” This was much less awkward and it created a nice long conversation for us.
Is praise bad? No! There is nothing wrong with praising someone. The issue is when the person, like me, needs praise instead of just appreciating when it is given. I don’t want what other people think to affect me anymore. Not everyone is always proud of my accomplishments and I am not going to let that get me down.