For years there has been a focus on raising children's self esteem through praise. There is increased alarm that we are creating a generation who feel they are entitled to what they want with very little effort. Bad self esteem = everyone thinks I am great and I don't have to do anything to get attention and if I want more attention I just have to do minimal amounts.
Real Self esteem, the kind you do want = Competence, Worth & Control. Competence is having some real knowledge or skills that allows you to perform something at a valued level. Worth is that you have value to yourself and others. Control is that as an individual you can make choices and are able to control your actions.
Telling children how smart or skilled they are is empty praise and the result is that children stop trying because they become praise junkies and they are afraid of failure. Failure is a part of growth. There is little in life that you get right the first time. Parents need to expect real effort and real results from their children and the comments should be reflective of effort given and discussions about what learned, rather than empty words. As the saying goes, self praise goes little ways. Many parents when they praise their children are really in an odd way praising themselves.