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General, nonspecific compliments like: "You're great.  You're a nice kid."  might be pleasant but they are not as effective as focused, precise compliments for specific activities.  

General compliments may raise the tone and sweeten the atmosphere, butspecific compliments reinforce behaviors, and make the child know exactly what it is that has pleased the parent. “Thank you Johnny for putting the sand pit toys away, you're a great helper.” “Wow!  Helping mommy like that makes my job so much easier, you’re a hard worker.”  

Your precise praise carries with it a clear description of: 

a) What they did   

b) Why it is appreciated    

And very often a label that children can use to describe themselves such as:   

A helper.    

b) A kind person.

c) A good problem-solver.