The research of Joan E. Grusec and Erica Redler demonstrated that when character is praised, we internalize those qualities as part of our identities. And over time, when we hear that we possess certain characteristics from multiple sources, these qualities are more likely to manifest in our future actions.
In my experience, children want to earn the identities of
"hard workers" and "helpers" and are looking for others to see them in these
and other positive ways. So next time there's an opportunity to call out a
praiseworthy action, acknowledge the quality of the person that you want to
nurture rather than the action itself. This slight difference in emphasis helps
to develop virtues that could last a lifetime.