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Three Alternative Ways To Say “Good Job!”


Three Alternative Ways To Say “Good Job!”


There is no question that we want children to feel successful when they accomplish something. Oftentimes we jump up and down and clap, say hooray, and smile to indicate that the young child has done something correctly, sufficiently, or appropriately. But can we make this special moment more purposeful than responding with “Good job!” Let’s break it down…Here are three alternative ways to say “Good job!”.

Most of the time, children are not even looking to us for approval of “did I do this correctly?” but rather expect a reaction since they performed an action. Stating facts, pointing out more personal elements, and even asking more questions will go further than saying “Good job!” Did your child just complete their latest masterpiece? Try responding this way next time, with simple facts and excitement:

  • “You colored the whole page!”
  • “You used three colors, blue, green, and purple”
  • “I can tell by your smile, that you’re very proud of your art”
  • “I know this took a long time and you were very focused”
  • “What did you use to create this?”

Not every action deserves praise. Throwing trash away, cleaning up after your meal, using the toilet, putting shoes on, and walking inside are all basic human behaviors that we are expected to do – they do not need a level of praise that makes the child feel successful. A child who puts trash in the trash can will notice their clean environment. A child who uses the toilet appropriately will naturally feel relief. A child who unconsciously learned to walk by watching others will feel successful as they control their location. All of these completed tasks can be met with a smile and a simple statement. Try one of these next time your child looks for that type of praise – notice a change in their reaction?

  • “You have been practicing putting your shoes on. Today, you did it all by yourself!”
  • “Thanks for throwing that trash away, now our floor is clean!”
  • “You helped me by putting your toys away, that’s teamwork!”
  • “You’re being a good example of how we should walk nicely inside”

Replacing “Good job!” with these types of phrases will create an intrinsic trust within your child, that their hard work toward independence is paying off. By continuing to say “Good job!” and not provide a true explanation of what “job” was “good” it will remain challenging for children to know if they are being truly successful at something or just simply pleasing the adult. Which response made your child smile the most?