From a recent (via Ken Pope’s listserv) Houston Chronicle story on self esteem.
As Dr. Jean Twenge, author of the book Generation Me, points out, most self-esteem programs encourage kids to feel good about themselves for no particular reason.
Here’s the important finding from a self-esteem study:
Starting in the mid-1990s, a team led by psychologist Carol Dweck did a series of experiments on fifth-graders, who were divided into two groups. In the first group, students were praised for their intelligence — an innate trait unrelated to performance. In the second group, students were praised for their effort and good behavior. The children in the second group performed better and were more likely to attempt difficult tasks — probably because their teachers had encouraged them to work hard, rather than constantly telling them how brilliant they were.