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How Much Self-Esteem is the Right Amount?

What's the Latest Development?

While praising children may be an important way to encourage good behavior, researchers have found that inflating egos can be counter productive. In a the study led by scientists at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, "Parents who noticed that their children felt bad about themselves tended to pump up the praise when working with them, saying things like, 'You're so smart,' or, 'You're such a good artist,' researchers found. But those children felt ashamed when they were defeated later in a simulated computer game; other children who received more realistic praise that focused on their effort or behavior didn't feel any shame."

What's the Big Idea?

While too little self esteem may leave children doubting their own abilities, too much of that good feeling may bring them crashing down later on, demotivating them entirely. So when it comes to praising children, moderation is the best policy. Psychologists have observed that children who have a realistic—not inflated—understanding of how they are seen by others tend to be more resilient. And when children do behave in selfish and hurtful ways, it can be good for them to have temporarily low self-esteem. Simply explaining to children how their behavior affects others is a non-punitive way to encourage sympathy. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at the Wall Street Journal

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