���Praising children, especially those with low self-esteem, for their personal qualities rather than their efforts may make them feel more ashamed when they fail, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association. "This type of personal praise may backfire. What may seem like common sense can sometimes lead adults astray in their attempts to help children with low self-esteem feel better about themselves," said lead researcher Eddie Brummelman, MS, of Utrecht University in the Netherlands. The study was published online in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. The study found that children with low self-esteem often received praise for their personal qualities, and that type of praise can trigger greater feelings of shame from failure and may lead to a diminished sense of self-worth. In one experiment, 357 parents in the Netherlands, ranging in age from 29 to 66, read six descriptions of hypothetical children���three with high self-esteem (e.g., "Lisa usually likes the kind of person she is,") and three with low self-esteem (e.g., "Sarah is often unhappy with herself"). The participants were told to write down the praise they would give the child for completing an activity, such as drawing a picture. On average, the parents gave children with low self-esteem more than twice as much praise directed at personal qualities (e.g., "You're a great artist!") than they gave to children with high self-esteem. They also were more likely to praise children with high self-esteem for their efforts. (e.g., "You did a great job drawing!") "Adults may feel that praising children for their inherent qualities helps combat low self-esteem, but it might convey to children that they are valued as a person only when they succeed," Brummelman said. "When children subsequently fail, they may infer they are unworthy." A second experiment illustrated that point. The researchers recruited 313 children (54 percent girls) ranging in age from 8 to 13 from five public elementary schools in the Netherlands. Several days before the experiment, the students completed a standard test that measures self-esteem. For the experiment, the children were told they would play an online reaction time game against a student from another school and that a webmaster would be monitoring their performance via the Internet. In reality, the computer controlled the outcome of the game, and the children were divided into winners and losers, including groups that received praise for themselves, praise for their efforts, or no praise.
Read more at: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-02-children-self-esteem-personal-qualities-efforts.html#jCp
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