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“Good Job” is for your dog not your kids


Do you ever hear or read something and then think, "OUCH! I'm guilty of that." Well, what I am about to write about, I am guilty of as a parent. But as the saying goes, once we know better, we can work to do better.

So many things in today's world happen instantly. We no longer need to wait for the morning and evening news as it is accessible any time. If we want to hear our favorite song, we no longer need to wait all day by the radio hoping for them to play it when all we need to do is search for it online. Want food right away, there is fast food. Want an item delivered to your house tomorrow, with some extra cash, most times you could make that happen. We live in an instant gratification world. And sometimes as parents, when we are tired from a long day at work and our lovely children show us something they did or do something, the quickest response is, "Good job!"

And maybe they did do a good job, but is there something that they can learn from the experience? We need to invest in them and their effort and give them feedback on what they actually did. Talk about what could be improved and highlight what was a great effort or done well. If we don't identify what wasn't done correctly or what could have been improved, then children will always think that they are doing it right or well enough even if they are not. It is our job as parents, grandparents, coaches and teachers to guide kids and help them develop their skill set.

We need to offer assessment of the work done so they learn how to handle constructive feedback. Keep in mind the age of the child and what is developmentally appropriate. Kids who always get a "good job" or a participation trophy may not learn how to strive to improve or work to do better when they think their level of performance is good enough.

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Research done by Psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck has shown that students who are praised for their intelligence scored 20% lower than those praised for their effort over time because the students develop a perception that hard work isn't needed.

The brain is a muscle and is pliable. Teach children that intelligence is not fixed. So when they don't do as well as they had hoped, they can work at doing better. Research has shown that when children have a growth mindset they succeed at a higher and faster rate.

Coming back to that instant gratification that I was mentioning earlier…. earning comes at the end of hard work. We need to teach children to believe in and to value hard work. If kids don't learn that they sometimes have to work at things then they are more likely to quit when they don't excel the first time they try - say at a school subject, a sport, a musical instrument, a hobby, etc.

We should praise children for their effort not the outcome. Give accurate feedback on what was done. If someone shoots the winning basket praise the time and effort put into practicing, don't give the child a label of being the "best player on the team." Even if they currently are the best player on the team, they may not always be the best player on the team. However, they can always put time and effort into practicing their skill sets. Focus your praise on what they have control over versus what they don't.

On the flip side, they may miss the basket that could have been the winning shot. You can still focus on being proud of the time put in to practicing and the effort that went in to the game. Then help them by deliberately putting time in to practicing skills that they struggle with whether it is a certain sports shot, a section of a musical piece or multiplication tables. Then, share in their joy when they can master the skill or accomplish the goal.

Research has shown that kids who have grit, those that can proceed past failure, those that can have a goal and go the distance are more successful. These are life skills that they learn from experiences. Here is a quote by William Arthur Ward that sums up the benefit of experiencing a little adversity in life," Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records." Help your kids weather the tough times and not quit when things are rough or tough. They will understand the value of perseverance and hard work.



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