The study, while not directly related to self-esteem, sheds light on why blindly pouring positive messages to children isn't effective, Twenge said. "Self-esteem in and of itself doesn't lead to good things, such as good grades or preventing bad behavior," she said. "It's better to focus on self-efficacy -- thinking you can do something -- and self-control. This type of praise, focusing on action, points to that."
The bottom line for parents is actually quite simple, study author Gunderson said. "It's really about fostering the mindset that challenge and effort are good, and you can always improve if you work hard."
Learn more about child development from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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