"This hand stitching on the hem is so neat and even."
NOT: "This skirt looks wonderful! Good job!"
NOT: "Well done! You're a wonderful little artist!"
(6) Praise something you believe is important to the child. Something meaningful to THEM. Sometimes we focus too much on things that mean very little to the child but mean a whole lot to us. The bookworm who is praised for their batting average, for example. Again, we're not helping the child increase their feelings of positive self worth when we make it clear something they are NOT doing is more valuable to us. In an indirect way our message conveys, "you're not good enough the way you are."
(7) Try indirect praise. Start by asking a question instead of issuing a statement. "What did you do differently to make the eyes in this drawing look so real?" Again, the effort and progress is noted.
I know that my kids have picked up on my distracted attempts and phony praise and have let me know it. "You don't really mean that, Mom." Or "Yeah right, Mom! You didn't even look at it!" This happens more often than I'd like to admit.
Kids may feel demeaned when they are given a half-hearted, blase "good job" instead of our full attention. And the goal is not giving our child our full attention at all times. Not at all. We parents have busy lives with our own interests and obligations. Kids can get saturated with or grow too dependent upon too much attention. So for those times when we cannot (and don't need to) give our undivided attention, we can instead say, "I don't have time right now to appreciate what you've done. Please show it to me later when I'm able to look more closely at it."