I’ve been planning a post on “good jobbing” for a while now, but then I came across this article, by Alfie Kohn, who says it all much better than I ever could. Plus he cites actual research to back it up. So I’ll just add in a few of my own comments.
I am amazed at the frequency with which people “Good job!” kids. It’s not just parents doing it, it’s nannies, parents’ friends, older kids (to younger kids), even strangers. I’ve had my kids good jobbed by random people who pass us on the sidewalk and apparently think Katherine and Clara are really good at walking.
Why do people feel the need to praise kids for doing what they are wired to do? Walking, throwing a ball, going down a slide, eating dinner… these are not accomplishments, let alone accomplishments worthy of praise. These are activities kids just do.
In fact, I find “good jobbing” rather condescending. What if Dave came into the kitchen (or worse yet, called from the living room) “Good job, Karen!” as I was making dinner? It would be inappropriate, and I don’t think it is any less inappropriate to say it to a child who is going down a slide. But it has become a cultural habit, and I doubt people even think about the fact that most of the time, “Good job” is empty in content, condescending in message, and distracting to children who are just going about their play.
Please check out Alfie Kohn’s article… he discusses “good jobbing” in more depth and with more thoughtfulness than this mini-rant. Plus he talks about “praise junkies” (who doesn’t want to read about that?!) and offers alternative responses.