A new study has found that children, especially those with low self-esteem, who are given excessive praise will dodge new challenges and not try to better themselves.
According to The Medical News Daily, this study was conducted at the Ohio State University. Studies before the one that author Eddie Brummelman performed have studied the influence of praise, but none before this have studied the affect of inflated praise.
The Business Standard reports that adults will naturally give a child with low self-esteem more compliments and try to give more praise to kids who need it the most. This could mean simply adding one extra word like when telling a child “you’re good at this,” but instead you say “you are amazingly good at this.”
Brummelman and his team conducted a total of three studies.
In the first study researchers found that children who had low self-esteem received double the amount of praise from adults, compared with children who had higher self-esteem.
In the second study, they observed parents and their children at home while the child was doing homework. On average the parents gave praise about six times during the homework session, one quarter of it was inflated praise.
In the third study 240 children were asked to draw a famous van Gogh painting. After receiving the feedback the children were able to choose to draw an easy picture or a difficult picture. Researchers found that the children with low self-esteem who received inflated praise were less likely to choose hard photos, while those with high self-esteem who received inflated praise almost always chose the had photo.
The study found both that adults tend to give inflated praise to children with low self esteem, but it also showed that children may feel pressured and not accept new challenges because of the inflated praise.