3 Steps to Saying Goodbye to "Good Job"

Last week, we explored Why Saying “Good Job” Isn’t So Good.

I thought we should follow this up and help you with this a little bit more.

We talked about why saying good job is not always so good because it really puts a judgment statement to your child and when you say good job, your child is thinking, “Well, what's so good? What did I do? What's so good?”

And then if you don't say good job, they're wondering, “Am I good?” “Why didn't you say good job to me?”

I recommend going back and reading Why Saying “Good Job” Isn’t So Good first as this will help you understand the steps we're going to go through in this post.

Three steps to saying goodbye to “Good job.”

And the three steps are

  1. Notice,

  2. Narrate, and

  3. Name.


I want you to think about noticing the details of what your child is doing.

And to notice the details of what your child is doing, you need to ask yourself these questions.

  • Where are they?

  • How did they get there?

  • What did they do?

If you notice where they are, how they got there, and what did they do, that is going to help you notice exactly what they're doing and what they did so that you can then go to the second step which is narrate.


I want you to think about narrating the video that you just saw.

When I say video, I mean what you just witnessed your child doing, the picture in your mind of what they did.

Say your child's name, describe what you noticed and use details in that description.

Most importantly, use a matter of fact tone to your voice.

What does it matter of fact tone mean?

It means if I were to say the sky is blue, the grass is green, that is a matter of fact.

What we often hear friends and other parents saying is a little bit more of a passive tone.

“Oh honey, did you like doing that?”

That's a passive tone.

“Oh, you really liked that ice cream I gave you.”

That is a more matter of fact tone.

  • Say your child's name. “Benny.”

  • Describe what you noticed. “Benny, you walked across the kitchen and around the table to bring your sippy cup to me so I could fill it with water for you.”

That's just describing what I saw and it's a very matter of fact tone.


Name a meaningful adjective to characterize your child.

Let me repeat what I said to Benny and now I'm going to end it with a meaningful adjective.”

“Benny, you walked across the kitchen and around the table to bring your sippy cup to me so I could fill it with water for you. That was helpful.”

That is an adjective that characterizes your child in a positive light.

“That was helpful.”

Some other meaningful adjectives could be thoughtful, careful, kind, cautious, loving, even courageous.

Another example:

“Eloise, you picked up your woodblocks one by one and placed them gently in the bin. You were careful with the blocks.”

And another one:

“Timmy, you took mommy's hand in your hand so we could walk across the street together and be safe. That was cautious.”

Do you see how I am noticing little details about what the child did and then I'm repeating them back to them?

Think about painting a picture in your child's mind about what you saw so they can recall what they did using your child's name first, being their narrator of the video, then naming a very meaningful adjective so that they see themselves in a positive light.

One more example:

“Annie, you went to Emma's room to go get her favorite stuffed animal and brought it to her because she was crying and you wanted to comfort her. That was thoughtful.”

Think about how much more meaningful this is to your child than saying “Oh, you got her stuffed animal, good job.”

What's so good?

What did they do?

Put Yourself In Your Child's Brain.png

You know what you saw and you want to compliment your child.

They don't really know what they did that was so good. So you need to describe it for them and then use an adjective to make it very meaningful to them.

By starting the sentence with their name, you're getting their attention.

Your child then realizes how much you notice them, how much you are acknowledging them, and how much you are truly being present with them.

That's all they want.

They don't need a cheerleader.

They are not looking for you to jump up and down, clapping saying, “Yay. Good job.”

That is not meaningful to them.

They are not looking for it.

They're looking for connection from you, which means you must notice them and acknowledge them and see them in a positive, meaningful light.

That's what your child craves.

I hope this helps you all with some ideas on how to say goodbye to good job.

The one comment I got most of all this week was “This is hard! Everybody around me says it. I hear it all the time.”

This is hard. And it's really hard to break this habit. Well, guess what?

Habits are hard to break and yes, this is a habit.

So you must be consistent and keep trying.

Just keep trying over and over again.

If you said, good job 25 times a day and tomorrow you say it 15 times and the next day you say it 10 times, you're making progress, so you're working really hard at that. Good for you. You're trying.