When you give your child praise, do they know what for? Can they tell you what they earned the praise for?
Do you say, “Good job,” and then say, “What do you think you did a good job on?” Can they answer that and get it right? Do they know?
Tell them specifically what they did well. Go from good job to ‘Good job washing your hands.’
We want to move past “good job” parrots. Truly notice and appreciate the amazing effort they are putting in.
Let’s do a practice scenario. Your son has a friend over. They each want to play a different video game. You are ready to step in to break up an argument and turn the game off but they talk through it and come to a compromise.
Later, you say “You were a good friend today.” Your son might appreciate that comment but does he know what exactly makes a good friend? Was it simply inviting someone over? Was it saying goodbye to him? Was it having a snack together?
How about this response from you instead, “I noticed when you guys were disagreeing over what game to play. I was super impressed with your problem solving skills and that you compromised to come up with a plan. That was super mature and you were a really good friend to do his choice first. Y’all are some cool kids.”
Which one tells your son exactly what behaviors make him a good friend? Which one will *hopefully* create an increase in those behaviors in the future?
When you truly appreciate your kids for the effort they are putting in for these hard things- handling disappointment, problem solving, etc- tell them. Then notice how they react. Do they stand a little taller? Puff out their chest a little? Shy smile?
Then by the definition of positive reinforcement- pay attention to see if those same behaviors increase in the future. If they do- keep on reinforcing the heck out of them!
Which example do you think increased connection between mom & son here? “Good job” or a legit mini conversation about how specifically he was a cool kid and a good friend?
We are working to increase praise overall here, right? But let’s do it in a way that WORKS. Tell your child specifically what they did well. Don’t create another “good job” parrot!