Good boy: dog training and conditions on children

Good boy, or similarly good job. I think if I hear that phrase, not directed at a dog, again, I might scream. Even my husband is guilty of it. I am very conscientious of it, so I rarely, if at all, say it. "Good boy, you finished your food!" "You picked up your blocks, good job!" Ahh!

Why do I hate it so much? Well, first I don't want my kids to expect that they will be praised for every single thing they do, especially chores or routine things, like picking up their toys, or eating their food. Second, it's an overused, generic phrase, that dilutes their worth, or the worth of their actions. I don't want my kids to see their worth, and being loved is only tied to their "good" behavior (which is also subjective to the person who said it, meaning that "good" behavior is constantly changing by who they are around) and that they only get things, get love if they act a certain way or do certain things.

I choose, and most child development experts say, to use phrases that compliment their work or acknowledge them, what their doing, etc. If they pick up their toys, or make their beds, or put their plates in the sink, I say "thank you". That's it. I'm happy they chose to do the things they needed to or were asked to do, but they don't need to be praised for it. If they are building an awesome Lego castle, then I say that. "I like your castle" or "wow, look how tall that is" or the like, is much more effective in the long term than a generic "good job". I know, that if Kevin says "good job" to me, then I ask him, "well WHAT did you like about dinner? Did you like the pasta, or was there enough seasoning on the chicken?" etc. So, saying something specific is much better. Plus, the odds of increasing that behavior again (be it cooking an apple pie for Kevin, Kian putting his plate in the sink, Karter picking up his blocks) multiplies when you use a specific characteristic you liked or want to praise.

And, putting conditions on things, like saying "you won't get a snack if you're not a good boy" is just ridiculous to me. I won't withhold food from my kids, depending on their behavior. Might they lose a special snack or treat, such as ice cream, if they misbehave? Yes. But, I will give them an option for another snack, not make them go hungry, just because they had poor behavior earlier. I don't insist my kids finish all the food on their plates, at every meal. I don't always eat the same amount every day, every meal, so I won't force them. Yes, they have to try and have bites of things and eat a decent amount, but overall I don't worry about it so much. Also, using food as rewards, I don't want to send any more emotional eating messages, as I deal with that myself. Bored? Upset? Did a good job picking up toys? Eat eat eat! No no no! Ah!

Along with that is "I/so and so won't play with you, or build that tower with you if you don't do x" "if you do this, then maybe I'll play/read with you". Sigh. So, you want to revoke childhood rights and learning (by play) because the child doesn't act exactly the way you want them too? Obviously there are certain things that do necessitate losing privileges and such. But, kids are kids. Did I do everything my bosses wanted me to? Exactly the way they wanted me too and at the exact time? Nope. I don't want little minions, little, silent clones of myself. I want to give my kids some freedoms to learn and explore and be themselves, within limits of course. I realize they are their own people and parenting is not about control, it's about guiding and teaching.

And that's my random rant on those phrases, and as I lost steam and the boys were done playing in the mud and ready to come in for a snack, that's how I'm going to leave it and end it. Here's some very good articles on the subject:

5 Reasons to stop saying Good Job

3 alternatives to saying 'good job'

Don't praise your kids

And if you want to find a ton of other articles and websites all saying the same thing, just google "parenting praise". I do remember some of this vaguely from my child development classes. It's kind of like Pavlov for kids....


Nicole S said...

Love love love your blog!! I came across this today whie researching vaccinations. I think we are cut from the same cloth. ;) Nicole

Krysten @ Glors Galore said...

aw thanks! I'm a bit 'out there' for some/most people...but it works for us ;)