People who were overly praised as children often display these 9 behaviors as adults

Whether their first unsteady step forward (before toppling over headfirst) or drawing scribbly figures that vaguely resemble family members, we praise children. It’s a natural instinct; we want to see them light up and giggle and encourage their creative pursuits.

However, too much of a good thing also has its pitfalls, and a child who experiences too much praise can grow up to exhibit a certain set of characteristics.

While there are positive aspects of being praised and praising, excessive or misdirected praise can lead to some unexpected consequences and sometimes problematic behaviors in adulthood.

Let’s explore the 9 top behaviors that typically manifest in those who experienced a little too much as children:

1) “I deserve everything!”

This is likely a statement that could be woven into your morning affirmations to give you a confidence boost.

But someone who constantly stamps their foot and parrots “MINE MINE MINE”, expecting the world to be handed to them on a silver platter, has a little too much entitlement.

Imagine a child who is constantly praised in their formative years. Constantly, they are told that they are the best at everything, and that they should let nothing stand in their way.

The distinction is that they are not only praised for putting effort into tasks and accomplishments but also for… existing.

While well-intentioned, this creates an inflated sense of self-worth. 

As an adult, this individual expects not only success but a constant stream of applause, often leading to chronic dissatisfaction in work and relationships.

2) No praise = nosediving self-esteem

Overly praised children often hinge their self-esteem on external validation and outside praise.

When faced with real-world challenges, they lack the resilience to cope without someone holding their hand and telling them they’re the absolute beast.

In the absence of this constant praise, they feel worthless.

This reliance on validation tends to swiftly create an impending fear of failure, which stifles growth and exploration.

3) No risk, no reward

Interestingly, excessive praise can create a fear of imperfection.

If a child is rarely faced with realistic challenges, they may become incredibly risk-averse in adulthood.

The few occasions upon which they did try and didn’t perform amazingly likely led to a little less praise than they were accustomed to, so they adapt to not try and never risk that happening again.

As a result, they develop a reluctance to embrace new projects or opportunities where mistakes are possible.

4) Too big for their boots

Some overly praised children develop a distorted view of their talents.

Having been raised on praise and told they were amazing at playing piano, coloring, or team sports (when their piano playing did, in fact sound like a cat being strangled), they achieve a certain degree of smugness and arrogance. 

As adults, these individuals feel special and entitled, expecting immediate recognition (and talent) in every endeavor they try.

Even if considerably sub par, they seem blind to this lack of talent and struggle to accept even the tiniest portion of feedback or constructive criticism from others.

5) Hard work? No thanks!

No to hard work People who were overly praised as children often display these 9 behaviors as adults

A key difference in approaching how to praise a child is the distinction between:

  1.  “You’re so smart! No wonder you came first place.”
  2. “You worked so hard to come in top; good on you for putting all that effort in!”

A child who is consistently praised for inherent traits rather than effort can lead to them perceiving hard work and elbow grease as unnecessary or even a sign of weakness.

With so much praise and fawning over their accomplishments – not the hard work they put in to achieve these – their adult versions may abstain from anything that requires effort.

They might also tear themselves apart terribly should they not accomplish the big, praisable titles they were lauded over as children.

6) No audience = no motivation

As mentioned above, children who are excessively praised may become dependent on external rewards.

As adults, their motivation wanes without some kind of external payoff (and in the absence of their parents’ constant applause).

They struggle to keep their focus in jobs without constant bonuses or promotions, and their personal projects often lose their appeal if there’s no audience to impress.

7) Willing to go to any means to please

It’s not just about the volume of praise, but how it’s given. 

A child who glows in the spotlight and thrives off praise and then begins to associate praise with successfully praising others will learn to prioritize external approval over self-integrity.

This can produce adults who are people-pleasers, prone to unhealthy relationships where they give ceaselessly to try and replicate the attention they received in their youth.

8) “Am I even worthy of all this praise?”

Paradoxically, some overly praised children become deeply insecure.

They develop something of impostor syndrome under a confident facade.

They believe themselves unworthy of the praise heaped upon them, which then manifests as extreme sensitivity to criticism and self-sabotaging behavior.

9) My way or the highway

Children raised on a steady diet of praise with little focus on the needs of others can develop empathy deficits.

As adults, they may struggle to see beyond their own needs and perspectives. Having always lived in the spotlight with a double serving of love and attention, they likely grew up blind to other people’s struggles.

They may struggle to see the world through someone else’s eyes, be closed off from sharing emotions, and all round poor team players.

Final thoughts

The way we were praised as children shapes our adult lives more than we realize.

If you recognize any of these traits in yourself, don’t lose hope. The first step towards change is recognizing these patterns. 

Challenge your inner critic, replacing harsh self-talk with a celebration of effort and growth. Focus on the value of hard work and the joy of learning, not just achieving perfection.

Remember, change takes time and practice.

With awareness and conscious effort, you can overcome the legacy of over-praise and build a healthier, more fulfilling life as an adult.

Picture of Liv Walde

Liv Walde

London-based writer with big thoughts, big dreams, and a passion for helping others.

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