Stop Saying “Good Job” to Your Kids

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I recently put this on my Facebook page… And I’m saving it here for a friend!

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(LONGER THAN LONG) Every once in a while, I get something in my head that I just have to rave about. Of course, it’s usually about something random or off the wall, but I’m super passionate about it. Sometimes it’s about seeing the world. Sometimes it’s about discrimination. Or even about lactivists (the breast is best hate group). But really, right now, I’m all about this “don’t tell your kids ‘good job'” argument.

I hate being steamrolled. I hate being the odd one out and being laughed at for thinking differently when surrounded by like-minded people. So of course, after being laughed at loudly for agreeing with not telling your kids ‘good job,’ I have to express myself. I really think a lot of the issues people have with it, why they support saying “good job” whole-heartedly is because they 1. don’t understand the argument and 2. never heard anything other than “good job” when they pleased their parents. 

Many people think that not saying “good job” means that you can’t support the winners, that it’s all about leveling the playing field and not praising any one child. Many think that the knee-jerk reaction to just spout “good job” at their kids when they do well at something is good, supportive, and all-together the right thing to do when encouraging kids. It’s the only way to build up your kids self esteem, some say.

But I totally get it. Mama never told me good job for anything, but my teachers did. My USFSA coaches didn’t, and neither did my dance teachers, but in elementary school, “good job” was rampant. Where did I excel? Of course, in skating and dancing. I remember in school wondering if what I did was good enough, if it would live up to what I did before that earned me a “good job.” I’d constantly be doubting myself, even in art class, because other kids got a “good job” while I was either trying to mimic what they were doing, or just would rather give up because I couldn’t figure it out fast enough.

When I was skating, I was left to train by myself because I did so well. I was treated like an adult, and was confident when asking coaches for assistance or tips on my form or speed. The only thing I wanted to hear from the other people on the ice was “She’s got it” so that I could work harder on passing my next levels, and earning my next set of badges. I excelled because of the work that I put in to please myself. I was up at 4 am to train every morning before school not so that I could please Mama, but because it built up my self esteem to do something so great on my own. The most I got from Mama was hearing her tell others how hard I worked on my career, at 8 years old.

The joy I got wasn’t from being praised, but from being recognized for the effort I put in. I didn’t get blanket praise, I earned detailed respect.

It wasn’t until middle school that the “good job” spewing stopped. One reason was because, by that time, I was homeless, dirty, and the most bullied kid in school. Just surviving the day was worth an award. Just working through the fact that just a year prior I was on top of the world and on my way to the championships as a professional figure skater, and now I was living in basements was worth a gold medal. Instead, I was invisible. I had the highest GPA in the history of the school system, but I didn’t get a single nod for it because everyone else in my school was failing and so at risk for drug abuse and pregnancy. At this point in life I actually did well, I took on responsibilities, aced every exam, and read books constantly because it was all I had. My confidence grew still because I was entirely dependent on myself to do well in school, even when my home life was nonexistent. 

In high school it was the same story, which brings about another reason for not praising kids for good work. I know a lot of parents give their kids money for doing well in school. I was told so often by aunties how doing well in school should be a given, and money has nothing to do with it. There is no congrats in good grades, because NOT getting good grades isn’t an option (and punishable by a beating). I did well in high school because, well, what other option was there? I participated in extra-curriculars and had a job because, well, was there something more important?

Some studies I read about say that when a child is told “good job,” say, when drawing a picture or building with blocks, they’ll probably immediately stop. They’ll stop enjoying what they’re doing because now they want to see what they were doing right and try to get some more praise. For many, all kids want is approval, so “good job” harbors their praise junkie nature and limits what they can actually do. The interest in the activity is stunted because now they want to keep the positive comments coming. Why? Because it trains kids to look to their parents for judgments, instead of being self-satisfied in their own work. 

This kind of praise makes kids even more dependent on their parents and superiors than they were before because now they’re trying to please “the man.” They’ve been manipulated into working towards getting a thumbs up, instead of actually working hard at something on their own and for themselves. 

I know, plenty of people still wont get what I’m saying, but here’s another example. You remember when in school, whenever you’d work out a math problem or English question and get called on, sometimes the teacher would ask “Are you sure?” Remember doubting yourself and backtracking, even when you (and the teacher) knew you were correct? Remember when working in groups and being the quiet one, not willing to share and tackle ideas because you weren’t sure if you were on the right track because no one else reassured you? Not everyone was this way, and some of the praise junkies (Hermione Granger) raised their hand higher than the sky and shouted their answer with gusto. But I remember seeing people like that in elementary school and being jealous of their confidence because, even though I had the same answer, I wasn’t as sure as that loud person.

You all know that I work at home, and though I’m constantly wishy-washy about the benefits, I love working for myself. I love when employers come to me asking for my talents, and I hate going out for job interviews and hoping I fit the right mold and wear the right clothes to please please please. I love that I can sit here in my PJs and pineappled hair and figure things out for myself. 

Thinking back to my last and only cubicle job, I remember being dumbed down to needing approval on the data entry I was doing because my boss, uneducated and simple-minded as he was, fancied himself a big dog when really, he did the same data entry we did. He was constantly checking up on us, giving us menial tips that involved keyboard shortcuts to make himself feel more important than he actually was. He worked slowly, and was really the ball of upper management. I’d watch him run around seeking approval and needing help on every little thing. I remember making him squirm whenever I questioned him or raised my voice because I could tell that I had a stronger mind, and job history, than he did. He’d been told “good job” way too much in life, and it was obvious by how easily he’d start doubting himself whenever he was questioned at all. 

When I think about it like that, I see it all around me, people giving up on things because they don’t think they’re good enough. And I admit, I sometimes doubt my work when I’m not sure if I’m on the right track, and have possibly the worst self-image of anyone I know. I’m attributing it to the good jobs I got as a child, and being put down one too many times by Siwa’s ex-wife Trena. 

This is getting long. You probably get my point.

What’s the goal of freelancing?

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The goal of any form of work is to gain experience, make new connections, and get paid. But what if you finally had everything you wanted as a freelancer: full-time work (or as much as you need) at the rate you want, savings and retirement accounts, and no fear regarding tax season. Your bills are paid, you are successful, what more could you need?

Some employers and contractors think that the goal for everyone is a full time, staff position with benefits.

Even if you are gainfully self-employed with the benefits that come along with it, a chance at that salary + health insurance job is pretty much gold.

Imagine two jobs, both with the same gross salary and benefits, except one is as a self employed contractor and the other is as a remote-working employee. Apart from being able to collect unemployment as a laid off employee, I can’t really see the difference.

What is the goal of freelancing, then, if it isn’t to get a ‘real’ job?

The Chatty Introvert

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LinkedIn just sent me the article “Best Career Mistake: Drawing a Blank With a Powerful Executive.” I started reading it, then cut myself off. I’ve done this. I’ve made this mistake. I’ve blanked when approached by execs, and when blindsided by hiring managers.

I talk a lot. I hate talking, I hate talking on the phone, and I really don’t like people. But I trick myself into being social during those ‘blanks’ by gabbing like a crazy person about any and everything. I hold onto the actual important things, and end up blurting them out at the end of a call, or sneaking them into an odd email. It must be a nervous habit.

I make all of the mistakes. But I think there’s a reason. Why did I blow that interview? Because another, better opportunity was right around the corner.

The Fearful Freelancer

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Some people can make the switch to freelance life seamlessly. They know their audience, their business, and what they can provide and go with it. They roll with the punches, and learn when they could normally just give up.

For years it seemed that my transition was also seamless. I started taking on oDesk contracts while in college, kept a few when I had a day job, and got more whenever the job market hit. In every lapse in employment, I’ve always been able to turn to oDesk.

But even after all this time as a writer on oDesk, a writer who actually does more social media and research than anything, I still find myself crippled with fear when asked to write an article.

What if the client doesn’t like it? What if I spent too long researching? What if it sounds like I’m as dumb as I feel when writing about your sound equipment?

I most struggle with the fear that I’m not good enough. I get daily invitations from people needing articles, bloggers, ghostwriters… But apart from the fact that I hate ’20 Unique Excellent, SEO-optimized articles in 1 Hour!), I hate when hourly jobs ask me to write an article.

I’m just not good at it. I almost feel like subcontracting everything I get to someone who actually enjoys writing for businesses.

Sunday Before Tax Day

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My mind is a bit of a mess. I have a headache from the number of worries and hopes running through me right now. But I know that I’m happy.

Today is my little bro in law’s birthday party day, and I haven’t gotten his gift yet. Tomorrow is tax day, and I can’t actually afford the bill from Michigan. I’m sitting in Barnes & Noble, one of my favorite book chains, surrounded by books I can’t afford to buy.

My eyes hurt, but it’s so beautiful outside after a week of wet and cold weather.

I actually have work to do this week, oDesk jobs that I just started, which is great. I really need to get creative though, and start managing my own social media like I manage other peoples’ accounts!

Why Does Cabela’s Want My Phone Number?

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A few years ago, I started getting a ridiculous amount of spam phone calls. Automatic machines offering cruises, credit card companies trying to offer the Har-JAW-LAAAAAAAHS a new lower-interest VISA, and several calls from foreigners that I couldn’t understand (and that I hung up on). I was getting several phone calls to my cell phone everyday, all day. First thing in the morning, before my alarm went off, while in class, and just before bed.

Not only that, I started getting catalogs and credit card offers through the mail. 

It took a while for me to put the pieces together and answer the question, “What did I do?”

I know I had opened a Maurices store card, but that’s it. Nothing out of the ordinary, no browsing on website and entering into travel sweepstakes. No signing up for any special offers… So I googled something along the lines of “Suddenly getting a lot of telemarketers calling my cell phone.” I quickly found the only plausible reason–I had given out my phone number at Maurices, and most likely every store in my area.

Gamestop for sure, JC Penney, Shopko and all of the grocery stores around. Whenever I’d got to Marquette, nearly everyone asked, and I gave it. In the UP, it’s common for cashiers to hear your number and ask where you’re from. And if you’re local, or they recognize the first three numbers, they’ll ask you about your area. The entire UP is area code 906, the cities of Houghton/Hancock are 487, 482, 483… If you’re from Chassell, 523. If you have Verizon, 281. So it’s habit for everyone to just give their number. Chances are, the cashier will say “I have a cousin from Calumet!” and a conversation will spur from there.

But my research showed that when you give your zip code, email address, or phone number to a store for “demographics” or “newsletters,” it’s really going into a pool of information that merchants can take advantage of. That zip code you just gave them with your name is like handing them your entire address and life history in a portfolio, with instructions on how to exploit your information. Yes, please call my phone at all hours. I’d love to get junk mail from your friends.

Zip Code Stores

(See the article, “Should you tell stores your zip code?” via NBCNews.com)

So I stopped giving out information. A semi-polite “no, thank you” and I’d be on my way.

This past weekend, I went to Cabela’s in Tulalip, WA with my husband to spend some of his birthday money. I’d gone there several times in the past few months to get a few gifts, and my “no, thank you” worked just fine. It’s just for demographics, they say. I’d rather not, I say.

But on Saturday, my husband had found nearly $100 worth of feathers and hooks and fly line that he had to have, even after doing the same thing only a few days prior. (Too much money spent at Cabela’s!). The girl rang up the total, and asked for my phone number, and I said “Oh, no” while trying to swipe my card. She stopped me from sliding my card and said that she had to have the number. 

I told her that it’s just for demographics, and I’d rather not give out that information. She told me that it’s just a phone number, and that she couldn’t let me buy anything without it. I started to explain that a phone number attached to a name and credit card is like handing over my identity, and she interrupted me to say again that I wouldn’t not be able to buy anything unless I gave her the info. She then started pushing buttons on the intercom, trying to get a manger to come over. I told her that I’d come to this store many times without any problems, have a Cabela’s card, have spent a ridiculous amount of money there… And she spoke over me to instruct me that those cashiers must have been new hires and it’s required. By this time, she looked to be shaking with annoyance and wouldn’t even make eye contact. She kept repeating, “Just give me the number!”

My husband is not one to stand up for things. He doesn’t like petty arguments and is really forgiving. I’m not like that.

He didn’t want to cause a scene and gave this woman MY PHONE NUMBER so that we could escape. She had just turned to face me, looking about ready to beat me in the face if I didn’t give her the number and he caved. Of course then, I couldn’t believe he’d do that after my persistence, and wanted to SHAKE HIM (among other things). 

Minutes later, I called the store and got in touch with Customer Service. I told them what happened, that this woman (by name) refused to let me spend money without my phone number. She wouldn’t let me slide my card. She wouldn’t let me leave the store. Of course they apologized, told me I was right, asked for her name, etc. 

But I’ve never felt so humiliated, so mistreated, and so shocked while shopping before. I spent my Saturday to enjoy Ladies Day Out at Cabela’s, entered sweepstakes and won a few things, only to get talked down to by a cashier who would rather rip my hair out than let me leave the store without my personal information.

I need to come up with a fake identity.