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Child Dev. 2017 Nov;88(6):1799-1809. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12936. Epub 2017 Aug 30.

When Parents' Praise Inflates, Children's Self-Esteem Deflates.

Author information

1
University of Amsterdam.
2
Stanford University.
3
University of Leuven.
4
Utrecht University.
5
University of Southampton.

Abstract

Western parents often give children overly positive, inflated praise. One perspective holds that inflated praise sets unattainable standards for children, eventually lowering children's self-esteem (self-deflation hypothesis). Another perspective holds that children internalize inflated praise to form narcissistic self-views (self-inflation hypothesis). These perspectives were tested in an observational-longitudinal study (120 parent-child dyads from the Netherlands) in late childhood (ages 7-11), when narcissism and self-esteem first emerge. Supporting the self-deflation hypothesis, parents' inflated praise predicted lower self-esteem in children. Partly supporting the self-inflation hypothesis, parents' inflated praise predicted higher narcissism-but only in children with high self-esteem. Noninflated praise predicted neither self-esteem nor narcissism. Thus, inflated praise may foster the self-views it seeks to prevent.

PMID:
28857141
DOI:
10.1111/cdev.12936
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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