A lot of studies have been undertaken to understand how to manage children with low self esteem. For a long while, conventional wisdom held that praise, almost at all cost, was the way to go. Praise to build that self esteem, and to cancel doubt in the child who has an innate tendency to low self esteem.
But that notion is being challenged by new studies. It appears in fact, that children resist such unwarranted praise. It seems they sense it is not deserved, and because of that, it fails to boost the deflated ego. More importantly, it tells children that only having to repeat the hardest tasks will result in that praise, causing stress and reluctance.
It also shows that children who are showered with such excessive praise shy away from those or similar challenges that have gained them the excessive praise.
An example of how not to praise can be described simply in the choice of words in something as simple as saying "you're good at this" versus, "you're incredibly good at this".
But the excessive praise seems to only translate into pressure for those children with esteem problems. Drawings completed by children to describe how they felt after receiving such inflated praise showed that they drew pictures that were easier, even after being told that those pictures would teach them less than drawing more difficult ones.
The opposite was true in children with high self esteem. When they were given excessive praise they were instead prone to take on the more difficult task, i.e., in this case, the more difficult drawing.
What the excessive praise translate into, for those with low self esteem, is the belief that they must always perform at that high level, so that they must always perform 'incredibly well'. That sort of pressure blocks them from choosing the more difficult tasks, even if they had completed that task well in the past.
Source : MNT/ 1.5.14