This is one confusing area because we often receive conflicting advice. While some parents are scared to praise their kids in fear of spoiling them, others feel that it will give the kids a healthy dose of self esteem. Like everything in life, moderation is the key and the focus of the praise is on the effort the kid put in to get a desired result rather than on the end result itself. This encourages children to not only focus on their efforts but also removes the pressure to always accomplish.
It is imperative that the parent understands the developmental stage and capacity of the child before expecting him to attempt a task. Praise need not always be words. An acknowledging smile or a hug can speak volumes too.
I grew up in a rather strict home where praise was scarce if not nil. We were well behaved and yet I could visibly see my parents downplay our accomplishments when other parents used to exaggerate the achievements of their wards. I feel both approach is undesirable.
Praise is needed especially since children have an innate desire to please their parents.
Praise also has to be honest or else when the kid grows up, he will realize that his parents were just propping up his self esteem.
When you praise a kid, be genuine and avoid joking about it or being sarcastic about it. It will hurt them and it is very rude. Then they will stop believing it when you really mean it some other time.
Giving specific and timely feedback is more effective. Praising one child while putting down the other will sow the seeds for sibling rivalry and many parents wonder why their grown up adult children cannot stand each other.
Setting realistic goals and helping your kid to achieve that goal is a great bonding opportunity. Giving feedback whether positive or negative are two sides of a coin. Both should be given with care.