Philosophy, Young Blazers — March 1, 2013 at 17:31

Finding the Just-Right Level of Self-Esteem for a Child


father and daughterA wave of recent research has pointed to the risks of overpraising a child. But for parents, drawing the line between too little praise and too much has become a high-pressure balancing act.

Cara Greene, a mother of three children ages 1 to 8, is wary of deliberately pumping up her kids’ egos, for fear of instilling the sense of entitlement she sees in young adults “who have been told they’re wonderful and they can do anything.” But she also wants them to have healthy self-esteem.

 Praising Success
  • THE SITUATION: Your child is getting straight As inavery advanced math class.
  • DO: Say, ‘I love seeing how hard you are working in this class. Life is going to bring some tough challenges, and putting in that kind of effort is going to help you.’
  • DON’T: Say, ‘Look at your grades—all As! You’re so smart you’re off the charts.’ (Lets child’s self-esteem get out of line with reality, setting her up for a shock later.)

“We wouldn’t be doing our children any favors by overinflating their egos. At the same time, I want them to have the confidence to tackle any challenge that is placed before them,” says Ms. Greene, of New York City. READ ON.

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