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Inflated praise for kids with low self-esteem harmful

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  • Inflated praise for kids with low self-esteem harmful

    Inflated praise for kids with low self-esteem harmful
    United States,Science/Tech, Fri, 03 Jan 2014IANS

    New York, Jan 3 (IANS) In a bid to make children with low self-esteem feel better, parent often heap lavish praise on them. But such a gesture actually harms them, making them averse to new challenges, a study has found.

    "Inflated praise can backfire with those kids who seem to need it the most - kids with low self-esteem," said Eddie Brummelman, lead author of the study and a visiting scholar at Ohio State University.

    The study also showed that inflated praise have positive impact on children with high self-esteem, said the study published in the journal Psychological Science.

    The researchers carried out the experiment to determine the results of such praise on two different groups of children - one with low self-esteem and the other with high self-esteem.

    The results showed that parents gave more inflated praise to children with low self-esteem than they did to children with high self-esteem.

    "Parents seemed to think that the children with low self-esteem needed to get extra praise to make them feel better," said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State UNiversity.

    "If you tell a child with low self-esteem that they did incredibly well, they may think they always need to do incredibly well. They may worry about meeting those high standards and decide not to take on any new challenges," said the study.

    "It goes against what many people may believe would be most helpful," Bushman said.

    "But it really isn't helpful to give inflated praise to children who already feel bad about themselves," he added.
    I think this is true but not for the reasons stated. I've been on the end of inflated (to my mind) praise. I was an introverted child who did really well in speech, debate, impromptu speaking, recitation, etc., in competitive environments.

    I had a very keen understanding of my performance (as most kids do). When coaches, teachers, parents, parental friends, etc., lavished unwarranted praise on me, it made me wince. I knew exactly how much effort I put into something, exactly how good or bad I was compared to my competition, and exactly what standard I didn't meet. I don't mean that I consistently underestimated my ability. I mean I knew precisely what my ability was.

    Fake praise frustrated me much more than indifferent responses.

    Other studies have shown that very good students in any subject with an objective assessment tool (math, science, SATs or whatever) are consistently worried about performance. Good students know that better students are out there. Kids with super high self esteem do poorly on these kinds of tests. Those kids don't have a realistic view of their own abilities.

    The kids with the highest self-esteem as a group are poor, under-educated, minority males who are disruptive followed closely by their sisters. Some of the lowest self esteem ratings come from high achieving Asian and white students in the sciences.

    I think there is a conflation between confidence and self esteem. I had confidence based on successful experiences but my self esteem was probably not that great since I knew I could work harder and do better chose not to at certain points.

    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."