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My five-year-old received a couple mini garden kits and was excited to get them going. He followed the directions carefully, put them in a sunny spot, and nourished them with water, kisses, and conversation.

After checking on them one evening, he ran to me in the bathroom screaming, “Mommy! Mommy! Look! Look! I’ve taken such good care of my plants, and I have another baby sprout!” I was wrapping my hair in a towel and felt the quickly-excited words “Good job!” on my tongue, but I stopped.

I caught the look of pure joy in his eyes, and all of a sudden, that phrase felt cheap and automated. I knelt down beside him instead and asked him to show me. I asked him how he felt, and he said, “So proud of myself.”

I’ve known the arguments against “Good job” are out there, but verbal praise has felt too natural and harmless to bother investigating. After the sprout incident, I found myself interested. I came across an article by Alfie Kohn, author of “Unconditional Parenting”, which lays out five reasons to stop saying “Good job.”



He claims it’s manipulative and exploits the pleasing nature of children. Good job, he says, is less about the emotional needs of children and more about the convenience of adults. He argues that praise doesn’t increase self-esteem, but actually makes children more dependent on the approval of others.


Kohn cites the work of Mary Budd Rowe, a researcher at the University of Florida, who found that students accustomed to a lot of verbal praise from their teachers were actually more cautious in answering questions, pursuing creative endeavors, and more likely to give up when tasks became hard.

Kohn says praise steals the pleasure of what’s being done. Children naturally take pride in their accomplishments. When we say “Good job!” we’re telling them how to feel instead of letting them decide. This also causes our young learners to lose interest in what they’re doing because the point becomes the prize, not the process. Ultimately, Kohn’s argument states that praise makes children more unsure of themselves and require greater external validation.

As I read, concern grew inside of me. I decided to pay close attention to the verbal praise I offer my children for a week, and here’s what I noticed: a constant stream of “Cool jump!”, “Nice coloring!”, and “I like the way you’re sharing!” As I took note of my impulses, I considered Kohn’s views. While I often felt the urge to say some form of “Good job,” it didn’t feel manipulative.

My young children are learning every day and require a lot of guidance and feedback. Praising my two-year-old for waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom isn’t about manipulation. It’s letting him know he’s on the right track.

If that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Nonetheless, I’m sensitive to the argument about praise making children into people-pleasers. I want my kids to be bold, free to create, to make mistakes, and go for it. I want them to do, make, and learn for their own satisfaction, not for validation from me or anyone else.

Even though some things aren’t all that fun – like cleaning up, and doing homework – I want them to know the fulfillment of being a cohesive part of a family. I want them to know the pride of trudging through something difficult and completing it. I want to nurture their self-motivation, not a dependence on gold stars and pats on the back.

With this in mind, I changed some of my responses. When my five-year-old showed me a letter he wrote to a friend, I didn’t drop the immediate “Good job!” Instead, I asked him what he thought of his work, and he said, “Well, I forgot the S in Best, but I squeezed it in, and I’m okay with it.” I told him I liked that he solved the problem without crumpling the paper. (Wait, is that still praise?!)

When his two-year-old brother was freaking out because he didn’t have a feather to play with, he eventually gave him one on his own. I smiled adoringly and asked him how his heart felt. I couldn’t help but also tell him what a kind brother he is. And as I did, I wondered if my compliments could really change his motives from doing what feels right to earning my approval.

You see, I want to make the point that how he feels is more important than how I feel. But it seems cold and unnatural to not give recognition. Although I’ve found value in withholding praise, complimenting others is a part of my life that I don’t want to give up. I want to continue appreciating and encouraging one another. Now, I feel inspired to do so in more genuine ways.

The other day, when I said it was time to go swimming, my eldest went upstairs to get everyone’s bathing suits without even being asked. As I thanked him, I realized that many Good Jobs are often Thank Yous geared toward children. They’re appreciation dressed up as approval, and even though I don’t want to nitpick wording, they do seem to send different messages.

I’ve found value in interacting more authentically and switching the focus from my evaluations to theirs. I’ve talked with my son more about his thought processes and internal guidance. Meanwhile, the main problem I found with “Good job” isn’t that it’s necessarily damaging, but it’s often empty. The words come out of my mouth too automatically, without enough attention. I hear myself say it as a half-hearted acknowledgment.

One evening, as I cut vegetables and my youngest pasted bits of paper, I felt myself almost say “Nice gluing!” Surely, he didn’t need any feedback in the moment. He was self-directed and doing the activity because he wanted to. The real reason I felt the urge to say this is simply because I wanted to acknowledge him. Instead of speaking at all, I moved closer to him. He looked up at me as I took a seat beside him. I smiled as he continued on with his work.

Being with him then felt more meaningful than any words. The next day, I chose a similar tactic when he wanted to open a yogurt by himself. He didn’t need praise. After all, he’s two and wired to want to do things for himself. I quietly watched him, and he seemed to take pleasure in my attention and his own abilities.

When he got the top of the yogurt off, I didn’t applaud. I said, “You got it. Time to throw it in the trash.” And he did, in the most confident manner. The way I spoke to him felt less condescending. I didn’t act surprised by his every little ability, but rather like I expected his competence – and that somehow felt more empowering than praise.

Now, rather than use my words to let them know I see them, I use my presence. Instead of praising a painting while prepping dinner, I stop and ask what their favorite part of the painting is. And although I feel more conscious of praise, I don’t feel scared of it, either.

A few days ago, our preschooler lay on the couch peacefully. My husband walked over and said, “You’re a good boy, Jav.” Then he looked up at me and said teasingly, “Oh yeah, I’m not supposed to say that.”

I laughed because, of course, we shouldn’t stop saying kind things to one another. But being conscious of how I acknowledge my kids does place my sights on the big picture of parenting: to raise children who are self-motivated and confident, and also to connect with them as deeply as possible. And this happens when we trade passive phrases for true presence and real conversation.

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Sometimes it can feel like toys are a mama's frenemy. While we love the idea of entertaining our children and want to give them items that make them happy, toys can end up taking the joy out of our own motherhood experience. For every child begging for another plastic figurine, there's a mama who spends her post-bedtime hours digging toys out from under the couch, dining room table and probably her own bed.

Like so many other moms, I've often found myself between this rock and hard place in parenting. I want to encourage toys that help with developmental milestones, but struggle to control the mess. Is there a middle ground between clutter and creative play?

Enter: Lovevery.

lovevery toys

Lovevery Play Kits are like the care packages you wish your child's grandparent would send every month. Expertly curated by child development specialists, each kit is crafted to encourage your child's current developmental milestones with beautiful toys and insightful activity ideas for parents. A flip book of how-tos and recommendations accompanies each box, giving parents not only tips for making the most of each developmental stage, but also explaining how the games and activities benefit those growing brains.

Even better, the toys are legitimately beautiful. Made from eco-friendly, sustainable materials materials and artfully designed, I even find myself less bothered when my toddler leaves hers strewn across the living room floor.

What I really love, though, is that the kits are about so much more than toys. Each box is like a springboard of imaginative, open-ended play that starts with the included playthings and expands into daily activities we can do during breakfast or while driving to and from lessons. For the first time, I feel like a company isn't just trying to sell me more toys―they're providing expert guidance on how to engage in educational play with my child. And with baby kits that range from age 0 to 12 months and toddler kits for ages 13 to 24 months, the kits are there for me during every major step of development I'll encounter as a new mama.

So maybe I'll never love toys―but I will always love spending time with my children. And with Lovevery's unique products, mixing those worlds has become child's play.

This article was sponsored by Lovevery. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Summertime is here, mamas! And while we couldn't be more thrilled about beach outings and pool days, both of those activities require one major thing—getting into a bathing suit. No easy feat when you're not pregnant (FYI: we tested many and these are our favorite five), but it's even tougher when you are prego and your body is changing daily.

To help, we've rounded up 15 super-cute maternity bathing suit options for you. From sweet one-pieces (like Old Navy's watermelon-pattered cutie that has matching options for dads, toddlers and girls!) to color-blocked bikinis that will ensure your bump gets nice and tan, we've got something to fit every mama's personal style and body. Because we want you to love your pregnant body and celebrate it—you know the saying: Suns out… bumps out!

The best part? They start at just $22! Happy shopping, mamas.

Motherhood Maternity ruffle front one-shoulder swimsuit with UPF 50+

Motherhood Maternity One-Shoulder Swim

Super flattering with a ruffle and in navy polka dots, this suit will be your go-to all summer long.

Price: $39.98


Hatch Antigua maillot

Hatch Antigua

Did we mention we love ruffles? This beauty from Hatch is sweet as can be, and while it's on the pricier side, the quality is there and it will last you multiple pregnancies.

Price: $218


ASOS Design maternity recycled glam high-neck swimsuit

Asos maternity high neck swim

Who says you need to be in a boring black bathing suit all summer? Let's embrace color (and some sexy drama!) with this high-neck suit that will have everyone asking where on Earth you found such a fun maternity look.

Price: Sale $33.50 (Regularly $48.00)


Motherhood Maternity 'Beach Bump' maternity one-piece swimsuit with UPF 50+

Beach Bump Swim

This suit is anything but plain with it's adorable "beach bump" sign.

Price: $39.98


H&M Mama swimsuit

H&M Mama Swim

Spice up your pool days with this super fun pattern that is also super flattering—after all, it's hard to spot flaws with all that leopard going on. The wrapped top, low-cut back and ruched siding all add to why we love this one so much.

Price: $29.99


Hatch color-block bikini frutto

Hatch Colorblock Bikini

Show off the bump in this color-blocked bikini that looks like something straight out of the 1950s.

Price: $208.00


H&M Mama swimsuit with ruffles

H&M Mama Swim

Bohemian perfection, this suit is perfectly on-trend for the season.

Price: Sale $24.99 (Regularly $34.99)


A Pea in a Pod rib knit striped maternity one-piece swimsuit

A Pea in a Pod Striped Swim

Preppy but also a little bit sexy thanks to the cleavage-baring peephole, this suit screams "summer" in the best way possible.

Price: $98.00


Summersalt Maternity ribbed voyager bikini top + bottom

Summersalt Maternity Ribbed Voyager Bikini

Summersalt is one of our favorite swimwear brands and they just released maternity options! Giving their ubiquitous high-waisted bikini bottoms the prego treatment, this is one suit that will grow with you from first to third trimester.

Bikini top price: $50.00


Bikini bottom price: $45.00


Pez D’or stripe one-piece maternity swimsuit for Nordstrom

Pez D'or Stripe Swim

Love you some stripes? Then you can't go wrong with this halter-neck option that is flattering and cute all at once.

Price: $98.00


Old Navy Maternity halter v-neck swimsuit with UPF 40

Old Navy Maternity Halter V-Neck Swimsuit

We're obsessed with this suite for two reasons: One, that crazy cute watermelon pattern! Two, the halter cut with tiny peephole is perfection and there's lots of support thanks to an extra strap at mid-back.

Price: Sale $22.50 (Regularly $44.99)


Gap Maternity tie-back print one-piece suit

Gap Maternity Tie-Back Print One-Piece Suit

This one-piece is as pretty as can be with it's tiny floral print! We love that the straps criss-cross in the back and that the sweetheart neckline drawcord is adjustable.

Price: Sale $58.99 (Regularly $69.99)


Pink Blush ruffle trim ruched one-piece maternity swimsuit

Pink Blush Light Blue Ruffle Trim Ruched One-Piece Maternity Swimsuit

Oversized ruffle? Check. Removable straps? Check. Ruched siding? Check. Adorable baby blue hue? Check.

Price: $46.00


Jojo Maman Bebe flamingo halterneck maternity tankini

Jojo Maman Bebe Flamingo Halterneck Maternity Tankini

Tankinis for the win! Perfect for pulling up when you want the bump to get some sun, but tugging down when you don't want to show some skin.

Price: $59.00


PregO Maternity Wear roll waist dot bikini set

PregO Maternity Wear Women's Maternity Roll Waist Dot Bikini Set

We love how sporty chic this suit is and that you can wear it after pregnancy, too.

Price: $68.00-$72.00


Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Babies love it when their mamas sing to them, and Carrie Underwood's son is no exception. But does he love his dad's singing? Not so much.

If your mom has a voice like Carrie Underwood's, chances are your lullaby standards are a bit higher than most. And, if a recent video from the singer is any indication, even Dad's singing may not quite make the grade.

The country singer shared a cute video clip of her son, Jacob, reacting as her husband, Mike Fisher, sings him a song. Let's just say the little guy isn't having it: Jacob cries throughout his father's mini-performance...That is until Mama steps in to sing the same song.

The clip shows little Jacob calm immediately when he hears his mom's voice (relatable, right?). Mike takes that opportunity to step back in and resume his vocals...but Jacob begins to cry again. "Everyone's a critic," Carrie captions the adorable video.

But don't take this to mean you have to be a recording artist in order to sing to your children! Even the most tone-deaf among us can (and should!) sing to our babies—not just because it's fun, but also because singing to your babe comes with some pretty awesome benefits. The act may even improve your baby's attention span and increase positive their reactions towards you, as we've previously reported.


While Carrie and Mike opt to belt out the song "I Still Believe" by singer Vince Gill, you don't have to get too fancy. Singing a good old-fashioned lullaby to your kids is a great idea (they work for a pretty good reason). We are fairly certain that most babies out there love the sound of their mama's voice more than just about any sound (with the possible exception of the "Baby Shark" video), so keep up the family singing sessions even if you don't have a hit song on the charts.

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I am generally not considered a sentimental person, and I do not keep a lot of junk. When I moved to college, everything that wasn't part of my closet fit into a single trunk. By the time I got married, I had shrunk those keepsakes down to a single box. When I got pregnant, the box had shrunk down to a tiny container I shoved under my bed.

Then we had kids.

The sheer amount of stuff we received from well-wishers was overwhelming. I figured that we needed most of it—babies are high maintenance, right?—and took comfort in the fact that when our child got bigger, we could ditch the bassinet and the bottles and shrink down our lives again.

I could not have been more wrong. The stuff continued to pour in, and it became impossible to throw anything out. Some of it was useful and consumable, like diapers, and some of it was thoughtful and small, like a special stuffed animal, but most of it was simply too much…like the 1,398 toys that began a procession through our lives over the next three years.

It was nobody's fault. My children have four grandparents, two great-grandparents, and five aunts and uncles within a 20-mile radius. Many of them express their love through purchases. Constant purchases. For Christmas, birthdays, Easter, St. Patrick's Day, your regular Saturday. There was bound to be a build-up.


The problem was that my children received so many presents the gift-giving itself began to lose meaning. Every time a family member came by the house, my 3-year-old expected a treat.

The amount of stuff piling up in our house started to grate on me, but I didn't know what to do. My oldest child has the memory of an elephant: the other day he cried because he couldn't find a specific drawing that he made in preschool 12 months ago. And my family was constantly checking up on their gifts: "Where's the special bear I gave you, little guy? Do you play with it a lot?" I didn't want to offend anyone.

Then I had an evening that changed my life as a mom. We went to a friend's house for dinner; they had young kids too, about a year or so ahead of us. We walked in and I was shocked at how completely their house had been taken over by their kids' belongings. You couldn't see the living room floor because there were toys everywhere—not in use but stacked up to the ceiling. They apologized for the mess, and it didn't seem to bother them, but I was panicking on the inside.

Was this what was in store for me as a parent? Were my children going to accumulate so much that I wouldn't be able to find my own life under all the mess?

We went home that night and put the kids to bed. And I ransacked. Three years of accumulated playthings, old "special" clothes, and my concerns and ideas about disappointing our relatives, were all ruthlessly sorted through.

If I was going to be a good mom, it would have to be on my terms, and my terms included the right to dispose of accumulation. It included the right to gently but firmly inform relatives that we may not have room for the stuffed bear as big as a house as a Christmas present this year, could there be a special place at their house to keep it? It included the right to shape my family's values, even when they clash a little with those closest to us.

I love our extended family very much, and I am glad they shower my children with affection, including gifts. But every mom has her own way of keeping her sanity, right? And for me, the key to a happy household now includes the occasional purge, when the kids are looking away, and knowing inside that your family will love you anyway.

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If you buy Parent's Choice baby formula at Walmart you need to check to see if your product is being recalled.

The manufacturer of Walmart's Parent's Choice Advantage Infant Formula Milk-Based Powder with Iron, Perrigo Company, is recalling the product because it may be contained with metal. There are no reports of babies experiencing adverse effects, but the company says it is proceeding with the recall out of an "abundance of caution stemming from a consumer report."

If you buy this formula look on the bottom of the tub to check the lot code and use by date. If it is lot Code C26EVFV with a "use by" date of February 26, 2021, it is part of the recall. Don't use it and take it back to Walmart for a refund.

These tubs retail for just under $20.

The FDA suggests "consumers with any health-related questions should contact their healthcare provider", and you can also call Perrigo Consumer Affairs at 866-629-6181.

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