Are We Passing Judgement With “Good Job?”
There was an article published on Scholastic.com not too long ago about the long-standing benefits of random acts of kindness. It is worth the five minutes to read. Why? Well, you may just change your language approach as I have with my little ones; not a complete overhaul, just some adjustments to consider.
Like many people, I have always been all about random acts of kindness and acknowledging them. It seriously makes my heart smile. But there are pieces that were missing from my acknowledgements; the action, the feeling and/or the why.
Here is an example from a recent experience with my Minis: Tomilyn watched as Ellie dropped her baby on the ground. Tomilyn ran over to pick up Ellie’s baby and hand it to her.
“Thank you, Tommie,” Ellie smiled.
Tommie replied, “Welcome.” (That alone makes my heart skip a beat at the age of 2!)
But rather than specifically acknowledging the behavior, I smiled and said, “Good job, Tommie.” I unknowingly may have passed judgement by saying that to be “good” she had to pick up something. That’s not what I was going for. I really wanted to reinforce the act of kindness so that it happens again, and again. To acknowledge the behavior that I noticed, all I had to do was tweak my language slightly. “Tommie, you just helped Ellie with her baby. Thank you!” or “Tommie, Ellie is smiling because you made her happy. You picked up her baby.”
Think about it-we do this with ease when there is a squabble.
“Ellie you just hurt Tommie’s feelings when you pushed her.” Ok, sometimes we may respond by saying, “Don’t push your sister!” but a more mindful response is typically one that includes the action and the why-as mentioned above.
Making a purposeful change in responses to behaviors that removes the so-called judgement we inadvertently place on children could help increase the rate at which children understand what an act of kindness truly is. And kindness breeds more kindness!
“Recent research shows that kindness counts in more ways than the obvious growth of morality. We are not meant to be completely independent or dependent, but to give and receive in mutual interdependence. Random acts of kindness —and regular acts of courtesy — foster the development of the higher centers of our brain. From these higher centers, our children grow to be readers, writers, scientists, artists, and mathematicians, exploring the wonders of the world.” ~Scholastic.com
Giving It a Try...
Avoid Judgment Phrases Such As (or at least add to them): Good job, way to go, I like what you are doing, don’t do that, that is naughty
Replace with Acknowledging What You Notice: When you notice an act of kindness in your home or classroom, acknowledge it by including the action, feeling and/or why. It may be more challenging than you first thought, but don’t give up. The lasting effects can be worth the transition.
Bella, you used kind words when asking for help.
Joseph, you are patiently waiting in line for lunch. You are helping to keep others calm.
This is by no means a suggestion to completely retire the (sometimes automatic) “Awesome work!” or “Way to Go!” phrases, but rather to balance them with simple and clear acknowledgements of feelings they produced as a result of their kind behavior.
Let us know how this mindful approach to noticing behaviors goes for you!
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I'm obsessed. This is fabulous. LOVE that you are doing this. The new way of being a student forces us to think outside the box and approach how we teach more dynamically.
~Derek, Father of 2 and Elementary School Principal
Just a girl with a dream to collectively build a healthy mind space for children, while creating a healthier mind space for ourselves.
Copyright Healthy Mind Space 2019