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“Good job isn’t a description. It’s a judgement. “- Alfie Kohn

Often we tell kids, “Good job” because we want them to feel good about themselves and to know that we like whatever they just did.

Even if it’s a positive judgement, it’s still a judgement. True high self-esteem is actually that: how we feel about ourselves. It has to come from within.

Have you ever had someone give you a compliment, and because YOU don’t believe it, you can’t accept that the other person believes it?

Judgements from other people don’t increase our self worth, they teach us to look for validation outside ourselves. If we want our kids to genuinely feel good about themselves and not just be “pleasers,” we should try not to evaluate them.

What to do instead of praise?

We can ‘sportscast’.

An example: Your child ties their shoes for the first time. We can say, “You did it!” and let them bask in their own pride.

We can notice results.

Another example: Your child helps you set the table. We can say, “Thank you for helping me. Now we can eat sooner!” and your child will feel pride in a job well done.

We can get curious.

If our child shows us a Lego creation or a picture they made, we can say, “Tell me more about this!” or “how did you decide to do it this way?” Really, they want our attention more than our evaluation.

If we want our kids to feel good about themselves, you can appreciate them and let them draw their own conclusions about how to feel. Instead of “good job,” let’s let kids feel good about themselves from within for true high self-esteem.


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Sarah Rosensweet is a certified peaceful parenting coach, speaker, and educator. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three big kids (ages 15, 18, and 21). Peaceful parenting is a non-punitive, connection-based approach that uses firm limits with lots of empathy. Sarah works one-on-one virtually with parents all over the world to help them go from frustrated and overwhelmed to, “We’ve got this!”

Read more at: www.sarahrosensweet.com