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The kid is 4 years old.

Since I have been on this site before she was born, I applied all the proper ways of talking and behaving with the child which are often advised here.

Now, the result is that this 4 year old is a very patient, quite hard working kid - when she's with me. She doesn't pay too much attention to her father's words many times because he doesn't act, just talks, doesn't follow up regularly.

Nearly zero tantrums.
I have to tell her only once that she needs to keep all the blocks and toys that she threw around back in the box. She tells me to help which I do. She does her share of work very properly.
She has empathy, says sorry when she needs to, helps to clean around the house when required, and has a great attention span too.

Goes to washroom herself, never has had accidents. We use diapers on her at night only because we don't want to bother ourselves.

Now, on such occasions, I say, "You cleaned the room properly by putting all the toys in the box. You worked hard. Thanks for that! You indeed have a great patience".

Problem is that she mostly always behaves properly. Punishing her is rarely required. No bribes have been given till date.
I am feeling that I am praising her too much because of the great amount of proper behavior from her side.

I think she "deserves" the praise because as I have seen on this site, almost all the parents have been complaining of improper behavior and several types of problems with their own children of the same age.
She's different.


Questions:

  • Will there be negative side effects of praising her hard work and patience every time she deserves it?

  • What is the proper way to praise the hard work and patience of a child such that she doesn't start depending on my praises?

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I honestly don't praise my kids. So I am the odd one out. I do an approach of no punishments & no rewards. So then many will ask, "what else is there", and for us, it's a mix of teaching by example/modeling, guidance and reinforcement, and finally teaching them about self directed behavior.

I know that is vague, so here is an example you used. She picks up the toys as asked. I might say "Wow you did that very fast. I can see you put a lot of effort in. How do you feel when you are able to do such a good job so quickly?" So in there, I am agreeing with the child that the work is good, but the focus on not on me saying it was good, but on how it makes them feel to do a good job. Another example. My child is afraid of the large slide. My child decides to try that slide. I say then, "I saw you looked kind of scared at the top there. Was it scary" (wait for answer) "Then you still decided to go down anyway. That was pretty brave. How does it feel to face your fears? Was it fun?"

The point in my approach has been to start at the earliest ages to get my kids to constantly self reflect. I want them to learn to be self directed as early as possible because I believe based on research (and how it's worked in my life) that children in general naturally desire harmony with their family. Development can make that hard (big emotions without the ability yet to process them, etc). So my focus in parenting is in helping them learn how to reflect on their own thoughts & feelings, sort out why they make mistakes & how it feels when they do bad things and when they do good things. So if you hit another child, then I ask, "When someone hits you how do you feel? How do you feel about that other kid? Do you like when people feel that way about you?".

If that, as an approach interests you, then I'd look into books by Alfie Kohn & Dr Gordon Neufeld & Dr Gabor Mate. I wish I could give you a link, but honestly the books are so much more useful & I know of no link that will give you enough of a synopsis to really understand why someone would choose that approach. What I can tell you is that I've been doing this for more than a decade now & for us it's been wonderful. You don't always get the fastest results, because you do have to be willing to do repetition (I often say to just remind yourself that you said the ABCs 1000 times before your kid learned it, so this is similar), but once it sticks with the child, I do think it's a wonderful thing to see.

This doesn't mean I don't compliment my children. Of course I do. I compliment many people that I don't even know, so of course I would compliment them. My only guideline is I do not praise them & when I compliment them it's not something you earn, it's a heartfelt genuine feeling I am having in the moment. My son does archery & when he makes an amazing shot I tell him. I also am quick to ask him if he sees how the practice is really starting to pay off & what it feels like to enjoy the fruits of your hard work. I want them to learn to do good things because it feels good to do it versus what they think they will get out of it, because in real life, many of the best works you ever do get no recognition & I don't want them to be wired to need that to feel good about themselves, their lives, or their accomplishments. I want them to always feel good about the good they do even if no ever finds out they did it - and I also want them to feel bad if they do crappy things & never get caught. I can't be all eyes everywhere & they will have opportunities to do the "wrong" thing at times it seems no one would know. I want them to choose not to because they would know, and have that be enough.

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    I really like this answer. I am not a parent yet, but you gave me a new perspective on my own yearning for praise and how it affects my self-esteem (positively if I receive it and negatively if I don't). I can use this knowledge to better raise my future kids. Thanks! – Penny Jun 29 '17 at 13:25
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Will there be negative side effects of praising her hard work and patience every time she deserves it?

I wouldn't think so. We all like praise. I'd say that goes under "positive reinforcement".

I like the following quote which seems to apply: We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

I believe that's true. So praise her for doing good/hard work, and if that helps her to get into the habit, you can expect it to become a part of who she is.

Or maybe causation is inversed - maybe she's used to doing good/hard work because that's who she is. But in that case, it wouldn't matter whether you praised her or not, because there would be no connection between the praise and why she does the work, so it certainly wouldn't be a problem to praise her.

What is the proper way to praise the hard work and patience of a child such that she doesn't start depending on my praises?

I don't think there's a problem as long as she's still very young. When she gets older, you can stop giving praise for every little thing she's been doing right for ages, and start praising her for other things she's doing well. Since these things will probably involve longer time-periods to complete them, praise will automatically come a bit less often the older she gets. But I don't think you have to ever stop giving praise for well-done work.

I think she "deserves" the praise because as I have seen on this site, almost all the parents have been complaining of improper behavior and several types of problems with their own children of the same age.

You're dealing with selection bias here - This site is biased towards problems with kids. Obviously you won't ask a question here unless you think there is a problem. So it doesn't make much sense to compare your child to the ones you hear about from this site only.

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