Does receiving a lot from parents lead to negative psychological outcomes down the road for our kids? That's the topic which Dr Ann-Marie Creaven from the University of Limerick and mental health specialist Dr Harry Barry recently joined the Today With Claire Byrne show on RTÉ Radio One to discuss. (This piece includes excerpts from the conversation which have been edited for length and clarity - full discussion above).

"I think it's a really important subject", says Barry. "As modern life has changed, we have our children later and we have a smaller number of children. In my opinion, there's an excessive attention now being placed on children so there's a great danger that excessive praise becomes a normal thing.

"The parent feels the need to boost a child's so-called self-esteem and make them feel better about themselves. In the parents' eyes, this is really good, it's showing I love them. But of course, unfortunately, it has lots and lots of negative side effects."

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

From RTÉ Brainstorm, how to boost your self-esteem

So are we now praising children much more than those who were raised in the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s? "While we probably don't have statistics to say so, we definitely praise more", says Creaven. "We are focusing our attention on a smaller number of children and investing in them accordingly so we're probably more likely to give too much praise."

So how much praise is too much? "The first is that praise is an evaluation", says Creaven. "Even telling somebody they've done something well is an evaluation. So if someone has tied their shoe laces, that's great, but they don't always need a congratulations. If a child, for example, goe on the big slide in the playground for the first time, you might be tempted to praise them, but it's also OK just to have fun with them so we don't always need to praise. Sometimes we can enjoy children for who they are without having that evaluative bit, even if it's positive."

Barry talked about research into the praise paradox. "Modern parents tend to excessively praise their children with very negative consequences. The whole idea was it would boost the child's confidence and self-esteem, but what researchers actually found was that it made the child get worse and worse and worse. The more they praise, the more the child felt fearful, the more the child couldn't cope with failure, the more the parent praised them so it got a negative spiral.

Certainly, we're not doing any favours by praising an outcome or praising for no reason

"We need to make our children resilient and make them adaptable to the real world they're going to face. The big problem with this is the more we keep over praising our children, when they hit real life, because they've been told all the way that they're great, they sometimes don't put necessarily the same amount of effort in. And then they hit real life, and they suddenly realise 'hey, this isn't turning out the way I was told'.

Creaven believes it's important to differentiate between praising the person and praising the process. "It's so easy to say something like 'you're such a good girl' or 'you're such a good boy' and there's no harm in saying that the odd time. But if a child is trying to do a particular thing, rather than saying 'you're so good, you're so smart', you might say 'I'm really proud of how well you tried. You tried very hard.'

"There have been studies that have looked at how parents interact with children and have looked at this process and person praise. What they suggest is that where you have a large proportion of process praise, children become more confident in taking on challenges, because they think their efforts might be rewarded. But when you're praising the person all the time and it doesn't go well, that's a lot harder for children."

"Certainly, we're not doing any favours by praising an outcome or praising for no reason. Children are smart. Children can pick up when praise is insincere, or when they're being overly praised. And we know ourselves as adults, if somebody gives us excessive praise for doing something, and tells us we've done an amazing job at what we know is an average job, we feel the insincerity, and we don't really buy into it. And similarly, children pick up on that. So slightly overly positive praise can be good, but very positive, not so good."