Three surprising things NOT to say to kids

father talking to son


There are a lot of common phrases that we as parents and educators rattle off to kids without thinking much about the meaning that could be interpreted behind it.  Some of them are things that we’ve even been told we should say.  Here are three things I bet you’ve said before (I have) and why we need to rethink even our positive communication.

  1. Good Job!-– I know you thought you were doing a “good job” when you said this right?  There are several problems here. One is that it is used so frequently today that it has become meaningless.  But perhaps the biggest problem, is that it gives the child very little information about what exactly they did that was worth the compliment.  Did they share a toy with brother?  Do their chore without a reminder? Ace the spelling test?  Finally, it implies a reward only when a job mets a certain standard.  Sometimes it is better to say, “You really tried hard on that and I’m proud of you,” so that a child recognizes that it isn’t just the end result, but the effort that matters.
  2. Good boy!  Good girl!  I hear this one all the time.  While it is usually said in an effort to  boost self esteem it actually teaches a child that he or she is “good” because of performing a task or meeting an expectation, rather than that the child is inherently good but sometimes their behavior reflects poor choices.  Much better again to point out the specific behavior and comment on why you feel it was a good choice. “I really like it when you share with your brother.  It makes him happy too.”
  3. What a beautiful drawing!  You are so talented!  While you may (or may not) think it is a beautiful picture, the problem here is that the comment does not allow the child to make their own judgement about their picture and ultimately it makes them depend on others to judge their work or effort.  I bet you know children who constantly need feedback and reassurance about everything they do, right?  Instead, we want our children to grow up and have a sense of worth from within not from without. Start a dialogue with your child about the picture.  “Wow, I see lots of colors here.  Tell me about your drawing.”  Then see where they go with it.  You might be surprised.

Do you know a child who will be starting kindergarten in the fall?  Here’s a great book to help them prepare for the big step:

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Goes to Kindergarten



Wyatt has never liked change, at least not at first.  Once he tries something new, he usually finds he really likes it.  Now that he is about to begin kindergarten, Wyatt is really worried.  Will he make friends?  Will he get lost in the new school?  Will he miss his mom?  Join Wyatt in his latest “wonder-full” adventure!