Tell me if you think the following conversations sound normal.
Me: Look Ben (my husband) I put the dish in the dishwasher after I was done using it.
Ben: Good job. You are so good today. You can put the dish in the dish washer yourself.
Me: Ben, I just peed in the toilet.
Ben: Good job. I knew you could do it. You are so good.
Me: I just put the lid on a Tupperware container.
Ben: Wow, you are so smart. Good job!
Sound weird? Yes, for 27 year old people to praise each other like that sounds like mockery. In fact, I would probably get the 'are you serious?' look from my husband if I treated him like that. Then why do we do that to children?
I know it sounds so counter-intuitive. You want a child to do something, eg put away the dishes, they do it then you follow up with 'Good job!! thank you for putting away the dishes, you are such a good boy'. But how long do you do this for? At some point won't you just want the child to put away his dish with no reward of praise? I just don't think it makes sense to praise a child for doing something they are supposed to do.
Maybe dishes is a bad example. But what about saying 'Good Job' for putting a smaller cup into a larger cup? On one hand, it is good that they are learning to do that. On the other hand, why should they be praised for playing and learning? Does the child then learn to do a certain something just to get that good warm fuzzy feeling from their parents? Say one day I decide not to praise or I forget that I usually say 'good job' for playing with the cups the 'right' way. Does the child then have to do something bigger and better for praise constantly seeking approval from their parents?
I think it's wrong to use praise as a form of manipulation. I don't want to pull at Luke's emotions by using praise to manipulate him into doing something that I want him to do. Then he learns to do things just for my love and affection. If I constantly praise-manipulate him, he things the only way he'll get my smiling approving face is to do something that merits a 'good job'. Shouldn't I always have an accepting attitude and unconditional love for my child?
I know that I am a praise junkie. I like it when my husband tells me I did a good job. Sometimes I tell him what I've done just to get a praise. I hate that I like praise so much. I wish I was free of it. Free to just do things for the sake of doing them, not for praise. So, please, stop saying "good job" to my child, let him be free.