When we sense a child is feeling insecure, our tendency is often to shower him or her with effusive praise. It’s a lovely, compassionate impulse, but it’s also one you may want to resist.
Newly published research suggests that, for the kids most likely to receive it, exaggerated acclaim may do more harm than good.
“Inflated praise, although well-intended, may cause children with low self-esteem to avoid crucial learning experiences,” writes a research team led by Utrecht University psychologist Eddie Brummelman.
Specifically, the researchers write, rave reviews for a mundane accomplishment can convey an unintended message: Now that you’ve excelled, we’re going to hold you to a very high standard. Since youngsters with low self-esteem are driven by a desire to avoid failure, this can prompt them to avoid challenges.
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