Saturday, March 10, 2012


The last couple of generations of psychologists and teachers, not to mention Dr. Spock, have urgede us to make our kids happy, especially by keeping their self-esteem up.  

DH and I noted that a local coach put 11 kids on the “first team” in basketball and 11 on the second, even though only 5 players make up a team. I also understand that now every child in many sports teams receive a trophy at the end of the season. Exactly what do they learn from that? Maybe that showing up deserves a special pat on the back? 

Today, kids do what they’re expected to do or required to do, and they get a “Good job!” “Nice work!”, etc. Is this necessary? I think it would be better if they were given these accolades for doing something truly outstanding, not for what everyone does or should do. 

We are raising kids who have less motivation than we did because they are constantly rewarded for average or expected behavior, instead of for doing something beyond average, beyond expected, or especially kind. 

Self-esteem should come from doing well, from feeling needed, useful, good. From making a great effort, from adding to someone else’s experience in a positive way.

Research is showing that giving kids this artificial “high self-esteem” often results in kids who are self-centered and feel entitled whether they have earned the entitlement or not. The armed services, employers, etc. are noticing these differences in young people and are not pleased. 

Most kids at the shelter don’t come in with high self-esteem. They have watched their fathers emotionally and/or physically knock down their mothers. They have sometimes experienced the same treatment themselves. Yet, so many of them are helpful, strive to please, and are delighted with small pleasures.

I don’t advocate children receiving bad treatment or being traumatized at the hands of batterers. But there is a lesson here, one that might help many a parent trying to be “nice.”

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