Thoughtful Ways To Praise Your Child Without Saying ‘Good Job’

5 minute read

“Good job!”

“You’re so smart.”


These sound like such great affirmations, but this isn’t exactly beneficial to your child. We know that you have good intentions and you want to praise your child for their accomplishments, but did you know that the constant use of “Good job” and “You’re so smart” can have the opposite effect?


Example A: Your child gets dressed on their own one morning so you respond by saying “Good job”. What will they feel the following morning when they have a hard time getting dressed? They will start to think that they are doing a “bad job”. 


Example B: Your child comes home with an assignment that they got 100% on and your response is “You’re so smart”. How will they feel when they come home with an assignment marked 70%? If we continue to tell them that they are smart, they may feel like they are failing when they struggle and begin to think, “I’m meant to be smart, so why can’t I do this?”. 


Of course, your goal is never to make your child feel bad, so what can you do to replace these well-intentioned phrases with more effective praise? Today we will share a few helpful ways that you can praise your child for their efforts, the qualities they possess and your observations about them. 


Here’s what to say instead:


“That took a lot of work!”

Example: Your child got herself dressed in the morning. “You chose the blue dress and you buttoned all those buttons by yourself. That must have taken a lot of work.”


“I can see that you…”

Example: Your child shows you a picture they just drew with lots of colours and shapes. “Look at all these shades of blue, green and yellow. I can see that you went round and round with your crayon to draw these circle shapes.” 


“You look proud. Are you?”

Example: Your child demonstrates physical strength. “Look how strong your muscles can be! It must’ve taken lots of effort to carry your bag all the way up the stairs. You look proud. Are you?”


“How did you do it?”

Example: Your child shows you their very own hand-made book that you know took a lot of effort. Take some time to describe what you see and then say, “You made your very own book! How did you do it?”


“I appreciate your hard work.”

Example: Your child helps you to bake brownies and gets involved in mixing the ingredients. “You mixed in the flour really well. I appreciate your hard work.”


“I’m so happy for you because…”

Example: Your child has been practising hard and has finally made it into their desired sports team. “You’ve been so committed to practising and training really hard. I’m so happy for you because I know how happy you are to be on the team.”


“You did it!”

Example: Your child has persevered through a series of maths problems and finally completed the task. “Maths can be hard, but look at all the problems you’ve solved. You concentrated on this for a long time. You did it!”


“How did you come up with the idea for this?”

Example: Your child has created a big tower made out of all their toys. “This looks like fun. How did you come up with the idea for this?”


“Your studying really paid off.”

Example: Your child has aced their English exam after lots of dedicated studying. “I’m so proud of you. Your studying really paid off.”


“How creative.”

Example: Your child reorganises their bedroom and moves their toys to the other side of the bed. “I see you’ve done some reorganising here. How creative.”


“I noticed that…”

Example: Your child has helped with the housework by neatly folding the towels as they came out of the tumble dryer. “Thank you for your help. I noticed that the towels were folded so neatly.”


“... shows that…”

Example: Your child found some money at school and instead of keeping it, they took the time to find the owner and return it. “Returning the money that you found shows that you are honest.”


“You are making a lot of progress.”

Example: Your child has spent a lot of time practising for a piano recital and they feel like they aren’t getting anywhere. “This is a tough piano piece you are learning and you are making a lot of progress.”


“I’m amazed by…”

Example: Your child starts telling silly stories at the dinner table. “I’m amazed by your ability to tell such funny and creative stories to keep us all entertained.”


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