Praising or affirming children for things they cannot legitimately claim credit (e.g., their looks, their intelligence, their innate talents, etc.) is the way we most often foster an unhealthy narcissism in them (because the aforementioned characteristics are nature-conferred as opposed to self-developed), an unfortunate circumstance only compounded by the fact that we rarely recognize and reinforce our children for what they can rightfully claim credit: the responsible exercise of their will. Recognizing and reinforcing these things helps engender healthy self-respect.
Properly balanced self-esteem and reinforcement for the conscientious exercise of one’s will are of paramount importance to the process of healthy character development.
If you really want to help bend someone’s ego pathologically out of shape, send them the constant message that it’s what they bring to the table that really counts, not how they conduct themselves when they’re at the table.
Being recognized and reinforced for engaging in meritorious action is crucial to a person’s healthy character development.