Moms and dads who bathe kids in exaggerated flattery to boost low self-esteem are stifling the very children they hope to elevate, a new study shows.
In experiments involving groups of about 1,000 adults and 500 children, scientists found that kids who self-identified as lacking confidence shied from tough tasks after receiving hyped compliments from adults, according to the paper, to appear in the journal Psychological Science.
Researchers videotaped parents, tallying how often they juiced their verbal kudos if they believed their child struggled with esteem. Common “inflated” phrases included: “You answered very fast!” and “Super good!” Researchers found that parents tended to give more inflated praise if they knew their children had lower self-esteem. During those taped home conversations — which lasted five minutes — parents lauded their child six times on average, and one-quarter of those compliments were deemed “inflated,” meaning they usually included an adverb like “incredibly.”
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