Hello!

46 Comments

I really can’t stand it when people say “good girl” to my child.

Why?

Because they are just empty words. Space fillers. And how can one do a “good” job at swinging on the swing or building a tower with blocks anyway? Doesn’t that sound ridiculous?

When you praise my child in this way I know your intent isn’t harmful but you’re actually taking away some of her joy.

Because praise comes from a place of control and that isn’t something that benefits genuine interactions. You’re not taking an actual interest in what she’s doing and you aren’t boosting her self-esteem. Real interest and interaction boosts children. Saying “good job/good girl” doesn’t.

So what can you say instead?

How about: “You did it!”

“What was your favourite part?”

“That was tricky, and you stuck with it!”

“How do you feel?”

As a guide; if it would sound ridiculous to praise an adult for doing a task you’re about to praise a child for; offer them the same level of respect and just thank them, don’t praise them.

Words matter!

Share your thoughts with us below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

  • I prefer to say “good on you”, whether it be a child or adult. What irks me is when people call a group of females “guys”, and a group of grown women “girls” instead of “ladies”.

    Reply

  • Each to their own I guess.
    We are told dont say this and dont say that. Its impossible to know what each parent thinks is acceptable for their child.
    How you treat your child and how you speak to them is under your control but if other people choose to say “good girl”…you really have no control over that…you might not like it but its not like the child will end up in therapy in years to come because the woman down the road told them they were a good girl when they were 5 years old.
    Words do matter….but its the negative words that cause much more damage then telling a child they are Good. Heck I say those words to my partner all the time. If we are going away on holiday for instance and I say “Ok…I will pack the cooler” and he says “Oh Ive already done it”…I will say “Oh excellent…you are good arnt you?..you are on the case”

    Reply

  • I told my boss good job on friday, no not patronising, sometimes someone needs to be told they are doing well, whether they are using the term boy or girl doesn’t matter to me. I tell my son good boy all the time as well, especially when he has used his manners

    Reply

  • Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Reply

  • I love love love this article!! I find Good girl and good boy to be so icky and manipulative. I would never say good boy or good man to my husband when he came in from mowing the law. It seems so unnatural and disconnected

    Reply

  • I’ve noticed it just slips out of my mouth sometimes and it’s taken some intentional training not to automatically say good boy/girl. I like the suggestion of ‘you did it’ that’s a good new catch phrase


    • Yes I am the same. My daughter sometimes says “I’m a good girl!” which must mean she hears it from others.

    Reply

  • I feel that being a good girl in my era (nanny now) was way of keeping adults happy and felt had to be good to be liked! not true but child view. etter to prise whatachievement is like ‘good drawing orthe subject not the person. Just brought back memories of my childhood (not all pleasant from being ‘a good girl’ can be a hard lable to carry

    Reply

  • I say ‘good boy’ to my dog all the time. I can’t think of instances when I’ve used this phrase, but I know I will have. It will have been positive praise obviously, and I have no issue with that.

    Reply

  • Ridiculous. Usually the phrase is for encouragement, and not being patronising or empty. You\’re being too precious. If the child is showing trepidation, you might say \”good boy/girl\” to encourage them. You might say it when they\’re looking for affirmation about something they are trying for the first time. It certainly is not black or white in whether it is empty words or not and I can\’t for the life of me think of when it wouldn\’t be self-esteem boosting. Some kids struggle with things like building a tower out of blocks, and it is an achievement for them. \”Good girl/boy\” is acknowledging that achievement.

    Reply

  • This is ridiculous!!


    • agreed! Bad examples too! You can do a good job at swinging and building… I say good job to adults all the time too!

    Reply

  • It always infuriated me when customers would say good girl to me. I would say woof under my breath.
    Because I’m not a dog so don’t say good girl to me

    Reply

  • I never really thought about it this way but it’s so true.

    Reply

  • I partly agree with this article but we can’t weigh our words on the scale all the time, that takes away all spontaneity…

    Reply

  • And we wonder why people nowadays are less connected. People can’t say anything anymore without potentially offending someone else. You can ask a small child what they asked for Christmas, you can’t say good job or well done. If you say to a child how nice/cute they look you are in the wrong also! This is part of the reason why there is no longer the strong community there used to be.


    • And we wonder why people nowadays are less connected. People can’t say anything anymore without potentially offending someone else. You can’t ask a small child what they asked from Santa for Christmas (because they might not “do” Santa) you can’t say good job or well done. If you say to a child how nice/cute they look you are in the wrong also! This is part of the reason why there is no longer the strong community there used to be.

    Reply

  • I say good job, I also say thankyou when my kids do their chores without me having to ask…yeah they should anyway but I noticed. Good job bud, I noticed. I’m paying attention. I completely disagree with this article.

    Reply

Post a comment
Like Facebook page

LIKE MoM on Facebook

Please enter your comment below
Would you like to include a photo?
No picture uploaded yet.
Please wait to see your image preview here before hitting the submit button.
Your MoM account


Lost your password?

Enter your email and a password below to post your comment and join MoM:

You May Like

Loading…

Looks like this may be blocked by you browser or content filtering.

↥ Back to top

Thanks For Your Star Rating!

Would you like to add a written rating or just a star rating?

Write A Rating Just A Star Rating
Join