“Good Girl” and “Good Boy” Compliments


Do you use “good girl” or “good boy” to compliment in class? I have taken it out of my vocabulary and here’s why…

It doesn’t mean anything! You have heard a million times, when complimenting, to point out the ACTION or gesture of the child, right? Right!

For example: One of your dancers shares a prop with another dancer in class.

You could say: “Good girl, Maddie”
You could say: “Maddie, Thank you for being such a nice friend and sharing your bean bag with Lucy.”

Which one has more meaning?

Saying “good” means there are only two choices. A good girl or a bad girl, a good boy or a bad boy. If they are doing something bad, the action they are doing is bad or wrong, not the child.

When I hear parents or babysitters saying it, I cringe a little, then always over compensate and praise the action of the child.

I’m convinced omitting this phrase, makes a huge difference in the self esteem of my littles!

What do you think? Have you omitted this phrase? Will you now? I would love to hear your thoughts.

p.s. 20 Ways To Encourage Young Dancers 


  1. I have also wiped those phrases from my vocabulary. In addition to being non-specific, it is also tying the praise to their gender. Children hear these phrases all the time and it reinforces that they are valued not as just a living creature, but as a gender. This limits their sense of personal choice in gender expression and also how they treat others’ varied gender expression. So instead of addressing my students as “girls” or “ladies” or “boys and girls” (etc), I address them as “dancers” or “friends”.

    Sorry this was a bit off topic, but I “boy/girl” is fifty percent of the phrase you mentioned and I think the careless use of those words can be equally as damaging as an empty “good job”!

    1. Author

      Emily, thank you so much for this comment and for offering this perspective! I use dancers all the time, and I think it’s the most important, even though most of the time my classes are all girls. I love what you said about gender! Thank you! 🙂

  2. I love this distinction of the “more meaningful” choice of words. Great for all areas of life as well as with adults too! I’m a yoga teacher and mama. I want my daughter and students to be surround with this sort of empowerment 🙂

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