I’m a “good-job-er.” Every time my daughters do something, I automatically say, “Good job!” Sometimes I try to mix it up a little, by saying, “Fantastic!” or “That’s awesome!” But mostly, I say, “Good job!”
There’s nothing wrong with that, right? I’m just trying to encourage my daughters; to let them know I approve of what they’re doing.
The other morning, I told my two-year-old daughter, Emmy, to brush her hair. We were both standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom, and Emmy slowly and meticulously brushed her hair. To me, however, her light, two-year-old strokes didn’t smooth her snarly locks, so I said “Good job!” as I reached for the brush to rebrush her hair.
And then I stopped myself. What kind of a mixed message was I sending her? Here I am, telling her she did a good job…but it’s not good enough to leave alone? If I brush her hair again, am I sending her the message that she didn’t do a good enough job?
I put the brush down. We left the bathroom and went about our day’s activities.
I wondered; do I always undermine my daughters?
Lily has started to make her bed every morning, and one morning I went into her room and flipped the edge of her quilt down after she had just made her bed. “I want it the other way, Mom,” she said, as she flipped the edge back up.
I want my daughters to be independent and responsible, and if I want to teach them these traits, then I also need to teach myself to stand back and let them BE independent and responsible. Right now, I’m not telling Emmy “Good job!” because her hair is smooth and snarl-free, or telling Lily that she did a fantastic job making her bed because it has hospital corners and I can bounce a quarter on it. No, I’m telling them “Good job” for being independent and taking responsibility for brushing their hair and making their bed. The hospital corners may never happen, but the neatly made bed will. And Lily can be proud of making her bed ALL BY HERSELF.
And that’s why Emmy’s hair is a mess when we go out in the morning. Just so you know.
Because we’re never running out the door, late again, with no time to spare for Emmy to brush her hair….
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