I'm reading the excellent book 'Drive' by Daniel Pink. Pink highlights key points on praising children, these being:
Praise effort and strategy, not intelligence
An earlier post on this blog outlined some research done by Carol Dweck on the negative impact of praising students for their intelligence, and the positive impact of praising children for their effort.
Make praise specific
Give students useful information about their performance. Avoid generalities.
Praise in private
Praise is feedback, not an award ceremony.
This is one area that I don't necessarily agree with. I believe that praising in public will encourage others to do the same thing that the praise is being given for.
Offer praise only when there's a good reason for it
Don't kid a kid; they can see through false praise in a second. Pink says 'Be sincere, or keep quiet'