Just this past evening I picked up NEA Today magazine that we members get every month (March/April) and opened to "The Praise Paradox, " by By Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
This is a very good summary of the work of researcher Dr. Carol Dweck. She has found that (the wrong) praise such as "You are so smart," or "What a fantastic job!" can actually get in the way of learning, moving forward .... wheras, "I can see that you worked hard on that," or "Nice effort, let's see how you can do even better the next time" encourages growth and a positive attitude toward learning.
This is potentially powerful stuff.
"Dweck had suspected that praise could backfire, but even she was surprised by the magnitude of the effect. “Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control,” she explains. “They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.”
Here's link to the article: <http://www.nea.org/home/42298.htm>