Parents! Stop Saying This!
Every parent, teacher and child care worker probably does this every day they are with a child. I did it for over 40 years.I thought I was doing a good thing, and everybody else probably thinks so too. What is it we all do so confidently? We say to the children,‘Good boy! Good girl! Well done!’. We are giving our children encouragement and approval, right? Apparently not, in fact we are constantly giving our children the message, ‘You need to please me, you need to do something to gain my approval’. The consequence is that many children reach adulthood with the feeling that they never quite succeeded in gaining that approval.
I was asked to stop saying ‘good girl’, well done’ and I was very skeptical when encouraged instead to say, ‘You did it! You painted a picture with beautiful colours’, ‘You made a big tower of blocks’, etc. I struggled to eliminate 40 year’s worth of wiring in my brain that automatically came out with ‘Well done, good boy’.
When I did manage to stutter out ‘ggg….You did it!’ and finally retrained my brain to automatically say ‘You did it ’. I saw children’s faces light up. I saw big smiles, I heard children eager to talk about what they had accomplished and what I had acknowledged. It really does make a difference.
Children want adults to notice what they have done and acknowledge their achievement. Whether it pleases you or not is really quite irrelevant.
To find out much more about this alternative approach you can go to conscious discipline where you will find lots of great instructional videos with Dr Becky Bailey.
Written by: Juliet McDonald, E.C.E
Photo: Emily Winter