Intense focus on self-esteem by American parents has benefits, drawbacks

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  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    Aug. 15, 2012 10:39 a.m.

    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.

  • xert Santa Monica, CA
    Aug. 15, 2012 7:10 a.m.

    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.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Aug. 14, 2012 6:46 p.m.

    We've done ourselves a great disservice by removing failure from our childrens' environment.

  • Utah Native Farmington, UT
    Aug. 9, 2012 10:50 a.m.

    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 monsters."

  • ute alumni Tengoku, UT
    Aug. 9, 2012 9:50 a.m.

    participation trophies for all!

  • Carolyn Sharette Sandy, UT
    Aug. 9, 2012 8:45 a.m.

    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.

  • Aggielove Cache county, USA
    Aug. 9, 2012 8:43 a.m.

    We need to mandate all kids go to the military.

  • EJM Herriman, UT
    Aug. 9, 2012 5:12 a.m.

    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.