The subject of whether to praise or not has been (and probably will be) debated for years. As a strict disciplinarian both in and out of the classroom, I struggled with the idea of praising people for jobs that should be done anyway.
However, I decided to try it. The results were significant! My relationships grew stronger and my students did not hesitate to put forth even more effort.
Unlike the external symbols of well wishing, such as cards, gifts, money, etc, true praise penetrates the heart because it demonstrates that you care. People respond more favorably to genuine praise than to any other form of reward. So when I extended praises to my students and others in my life, I found that people responded more favorably to me and my requests, even if I asked something of them that they were reluctant to do.
I am convinced that we all want to hear those "warm fuzzies" sometimes, even when we scream that we don't. But genuine praise is much more than artificially inflating someone's ego. That, I won't do. Genuine praise declares that you have observed and appreciate another's efforts.
Even if you don't feel comfortable praising your child for her performance at this moment, find something else to praise her for--perhaps the effort that she's exuding or her perserverance. Take time to find some area where you can shower genuine praise on your child and others in your life. Try it daily for 5 weeks and see what happens.
Your relationships will grow stronger, barriers will be broken, and it will be easier to discuss other, perhaps more difficult things. You will see the person's resistance change to assistance. You will see an increased effort to please you, the praiser, and all around you things will seem easier, including tackling the subject of increased effort and better performance in math.
For more strategies that anyone can use to help their children achieve in math, visit http://HelpYourChildAchieveInMath.com for a 38 page e-book.