New York Magazine has an interesting article about the problems with over-bolstering your kid’s self esteem.
Research suggests that if parents continually praise their genuinely intelligent chidlren as “smart,” it tends to cause a pattern of underachievement and an unwillingness to strive for risks on the part of the kids.
“When parents praise their children’s intelligence, they believe they are providing the solution to this problem. According to a survey conducted by Columbia University, 85 percent of American parents think it’s important to tell their kids that they’re smart. In and around the New York area, according to my own (admittedly nonscientific) poll, the number is more like 100 percent. Everyone does it, habitually. The constant praise is meant to be an angel on the shoulder, ensuring that children do not sell their talents short. But a growing body of research—and a new study from the trenches of the New York public-school system—strongly suggests it might be the other way around. Giving kids the label of “smart” does not prevent them from underperforming. It might actually be causing it.”