We seem to obsessed with all the fine details about how to raise children with
strong self-esteem. The best for children to gain self-esteem is not much
related to anything we do other than providing each with a stable family led by
a caring mother and father.
A very good article and an even better debate. The lack of intelligence and
nuance of the person planting the self esteem inside the head of the child is
more often the problem than anything the child brings to the table. I've
been teaching for 16 years and I can tell you that the only parents that are
scarier than the cold, distant or uninvolved types--are those moms and dads who
refuse to see their child as anything but a "real winner." These parents
(who themselves strike me as entitled brats in their 30's and 40')
really speak of their children as "wise old souls" who are in possession
of great hidden talents that are just waiting to spring forth if only I remember
to give their child constant positive reinforcement (and a really good
grade--hint hint). Their offspring go into epileptic seizures when told that
they need to improve in a given area, or see the teacher as the enemy when
redirected over almost anything. The failure to allow your child to
fail, may end up being your biggest failure as a parent.
We've done ourselves a great disservice by removing failure from our
More important than self-esteem, I'm inclined to think that we need to
teach our children empathy. Looking beyond your own situation to the thoughts
and feelings of others not only shifts the focus away from yourself, but makes
for kinder, more compassionate human beings. We need more compassion and
understanding in this world than we do ego-driven, self-centered "ME
participation trophies for all!
The large-scale study Project Follow Through, which was at the time the largest
study funded by the federal government and lasted for decades, found that
emotional health (affective measures) were highest among students who were
challenged and successfully taught rigorous academics. The models PFT studied
that focused first on self-esteem and tried to impact academic learning
secondarily were least helpful to a child's academic AND emotional
health.It is a fascinating study and can be found online with a
simple search.Of course we are not talking about abusive parents
here. We are talking about good parents and helping them to know what to focus
on. The answer is BOTH - when a child is very young, affirm his/her worth
through your kindness and love, but don't shield the child from the
consequences of their behaviors. When they are school age, place them in an
environment that is challenging, with lots of opportunities for success AND
failure and let them learn about it firsthand. This develops resilient adults
with appropriate self-esteem.
We need to mandate all kids go to the military.
Read the book "The Boy named It". Then decide if a person who is
treated poorly by his parents can succeed or not. I have seen too
many young people today who think just because they breathe that they are
special and entitled. Not good for our society at all.