Help Me Grow | United Way of Utah County

What Can I Say Instead of “Good Job?”

It’s been 10 minutes. You’re late for an appointment, but your toddler insists on putting on their own shoes. It would have been much faster to do it yourself, but they insisted. Relieved and ready to get out the door, you give them a high five and say, “Good job!”

Let’s talk about that phrase, “Good Job.” It has been repeated to most adults since infancy. It’s almost like a reflex or a habit at this point. Most parents want to praise their children for a “job well done,” but is there another way to go about it?

What if you were to leave the judgment up to your child? What if we took the “good” and the “bad” out of our perception of their milestones, and let them gain self-confidence in their achievements on their own?

Here are a few options of things to say instead of “good job.”

  1. “You did it.” Body language is everything. Smile, and let them know that you noticed their efforts.
  2. “I can see that you ___” and then describe what happened. This will show that you are paying attention.
  3. “You look happy! Tell me more” This gives the child the opportunity to say what they think about the work they have done.
  4. “You are growing! I remember when you weren’t able to ____ and now you can _____.” This doesn’t state whether their accomplishments were good or bad, it just shows that you have seen progress.
  5. “Thank you.” A simple thank you can have a lot of power.
  6. “What do you like the most about ___.” Letting your child be the one to recognize their efforts can help them become “self-driven” rather than “adult-driven.”
  7. “How do you feel?” It can be beneficial to allow the child to name their own emotions about their successes.
  8. “I bet you worked hard on that!” It is important to praise and recognize children for their efforts.
  9. “You must have been practicing.”
  10. “Keep going!” make sure to encourage your children to keep working at a skill once they’ve got it down.

Learning to rephrase the way that we praise our children can be difficult, but it is worth the effort! Be patient with yourself and your child as you learn these new phrases. Most importantly- have fun as you notice their accomplishments and let them be their own cheerleaders.


Some additional phrases are found here and here. What other phrases can you think of?


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