KOHN: Five Reasons to stop saying “Good Job!”

Alfie Kohn’s article, Five Reasons to Stop Saying “Good Job!” states that kids have become “praise junkies.” He says that since young children are so “hungry” for approval, adults have a responsibility not to “exploit that dependence” for their own convenience. This is one of the most on-going controversial topics we have explored in our work with parents and educators during the past twenty-three years.


August 3, 2008. Uncategorized.


  1. Ann Treacy replied:

    I really enjoyed that article. I have always wondered about too much “good job” especially when someone really hasn’t done a good job – they’ve just done what they should have done or needed to do or worse, they’re not actually good at something. I thank the person who finally said to me – maybe singing isn’t your thing. It freed me up for finding my thing – and ensured that’s I’d never be subjected to an American Idol audition.

    Thanks for the good reminder.

  2. Gordon Decker replied:

    I loved this article, and highly recommend it for educators and parents. Besides pointing out the dangers of “praise-addiction,” Kohn also shows that just because we’re not praising doesn’t mean we’re not encouraging and loving children. Other feedback may not be as easy as praise, but it’s a whole lot more healthy!

  3. Alicen replied:

    I agree. This is a great article – though frustrating at times (if only because it forces me to realize how often I rely on a quick & simple “Good job” when something more productive & constructive could be said instead).

    It is eye opening to see the various reasons why I (or other educators) use this evaluative praise and to realize that it’s not always FOR the student – but rather for myself. It will take some retraining to be able to comfortably and naturally use more descriptive praise.

    A thought: once I accomplish the transition to descriptive praise, should I tell myself “I’ve done a good job!”? 😉

  4. Rob Pendleton replied:


    Alfie Kohn’s article takes on the “good job” scripture as the opiate of the classes! It is as if the State has taken the measure of its teachers and turned them loose on the children, turning them into consumers of validation rather than producers of validation. Now, a producer of validation, or a child who is learning to manage their learning, is given a big leg up when their teachers and parents go beyond the “good job” praise and begin to give descriptive responses to their child’s or student’s work. “I noticed that you picked up your toys and put them away when you were done,” allows space for the child to then have an inner dialogue about their parent’s or teacher’s description of what they did. They are then pleased for themselves. And having arrived at the conclusion for themselves they begin an internal dialogue that helps them grow as individuals. They are less and less dependent on external motivation as they develop the ability (with the help of adults) to find their motivations and responses from within themselves.

  5. Sara replied:

    “Stop Saying Good Job” is an article every teacher and parent should read! So many students react to praise and grades as the “end” to an assignment or test, ignoring any constructive feedback or learning that should continue. It is difficult to break the habit of punctuating feedback with evaluative praise. While awkward at first, both teachers and students will benefit from the higher level thinking that follows descriptive feedback.

  6. Briana Sykora replied:

    The tips for getting more time to teach are simple and clear!
    1. It is important to recognize we are human and have feeling and can react to things our own way, but all too often teacher can overreact and cause a huge disruption.
    2. Kids know if you follow through or not, empty threats get you nowhere.
    3. “Fair isn’t always equal”
    4. Students do much better with routine and schedule, so why would they do better if consequences were a surprise? Knowing what is coming gives them a clear path to follow (whichever way they go)
    5. Choice is power, and in school kids feel powerless to their teachers. Offering choice will allow them to do what is asked but not feel forced.

    These are such helpful and useful tips!!!

    • Briana Sykora replied:

      Sorry I posted this on the wrong blog 😦
      I meant to post it on the September 2008 blog on the tips for more teaching time!

      I did find this blog interesting too, just added the wrong reply!!!!!


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