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Why should I stop saying “good job!” to my kid?

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Why should I stop saying “good job!” to my kid?

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Such short bursts of praise don’t provide children with useful information to repeat the positive behaviour. We need to tell them specifically what they’ve done well and why it is a good thing to do.

The best way to praise your child for his artwork is to say, for instance: “That is really nice work! I can see you put a lot of effort into that. I like the way you experimented with the colours.”

Keep your statements specific and positive, and don’t overdo it, such as: “Wow! That is just so beautiful; it’s the most beautiful thing ever!” Avoid exaggerating; children can tell when you are doing so.

It’s important to keep it in the moment, as well. Do not dig into the past to taint your praise. Avoid saying: “You are doing a great job working together this morning…so much better than yesterday!” or “You worked hard on this; you should really do that more often.” Although it is immediate and informative, it is a compliment wrapped inside an insult.

Tina Stephenson-Chin, Etonhouse.


Brian Caswell is the dean of Research and Program Development at Mindchamps. He has 15 grand children.

Helen Marjan is the CEO and director of Studies at Lorna Whiston Schools. Her three children are in their teens.

June Rusdon is the chief executive officer of Busy Bees Asia. She has three kids in their 20s.

Tina Stephenson-Chin is the executive director of Pedagogy and school principal at Etonhouse Newton. She has a five-year-old son.

Fiona Walker is the group managing director of Julia Gabriel Education – Julia Gabriel Centre, Chiltern House Preschool and Chengzhu. Her son is aged 13, and her daughter is 10.


Dr Cornelia Chee is a psychiatrist and director in the Women’s Emotional Health Service at the National University Hospital. Her daughters are aged 12 and 15.


Dr Richard C. Woolfson is a child psychologist based in Britain. He has written 15 books on child and family development, and is Young Parents’ long-standing Age by Stage columnist. He’s also a grandfather of fi ve.


Dr Chan Poh Chong is the head and senior consultant with the Division of General Ambulatory Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the Khoo Teck PuatNational University Children’s Medical Institute, National University Hospital.

Dr Natalie Epton is a specialist paediatrician and neonatologist at SBCC Baby & Child Clinic at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre. She has three kids aged four to 11.


Dr Goh Shen Li is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist in the S L Goh Women’s Clinic at Mount Alvernia Medical Centre. She has three children aged two to six.


Kang Phaik Gaik is a senior nurse manager and parentcraft/ lactation consultant at Mount Alvernia Hospital’s Parentcraft Centre. Her two children are in their 20s.


Pauline Xie is a principal dietitian with the Clinical Services Division at the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics. Her three daughters are aged four to 11.


Dr Rashid Tahir is a paediatric dentist at The Kids Dentist. He’s also the president of the Pediatric Dentistry Association of Asia and an adjunct associate professor in the Faculty of Dentistry at National University of Singapore. His two daughters are in their teens.


Alfred Tan is the chief executive officer of Singapore Children’s Society. His two children are in their 20s.

Any views expressed by the Members of the Editorial Advisory Board in this magazine are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of, or are sanctioned by, this magazine. Members of the Editorial Advisory Board do not, by virtue of their membership, endorse or support any product or service advertised or articles featured in this magazine. The articles in this magazine are for your information only. Do not substitute them for the advice of a qualified health-care practitioner or professional adviser.