Monday, April 09, 2007

Are we raising a nation of little egomaniacs?

I can't tell you how many kids I see these days that seem too overly confident that they often don't feel they need to listen to adults. Thoughts on this article from Newsweek?

While experts debate just how much praise is appropriate to lavish on children, there are some parenting points they all agree on:
— Give accurate feedback. Nobody can master a skill or even get better if they don't have genuine feedback. Of course, be kind. But also be truthful.
— Don't overpraise. Kids can't be great at absolutely everything. If you tell them they are, they'll soon find out the truth and not trust you. Be encouraging but don't overdo it.
— Promote new activities. The more kids try, the better the odds they'll find something they're great at. Also, the experience of not being good at something is valuable.
— Let them suffer consequences. Kids who aren't allowed to take responsibility for their actions don't develop responsible characters, a linchpin of solid self-esteem. So if they don't study for a test or do the homework, don't call the teacher for special treatment.


marshkn said...

I like these suggestions a lot. It makes me think of my son Tom's first reaction to a Barney video in which Barney was telling each kid how special he/she was. Three-year-old Tom told me quite matter-of-factly, "I'm not special." I thought about it a minute, my first reaction being to "reassure" him with "Oh, yes you are." But then I thought that the kid had a point. So, I didn't dispute it, but told him that he was special to me.

StuntMom said...

Oh that is so sweet. I can picture that conversation. It is funny how kids pick up on such things as being phoney. Think of all of the parents that say you can be anything you want. But really you should tell your kids that with a bit of a reality check too. If your kid wants to be a professional mountain biker, and they aren't in the top 5 at every race, then maybe it's the parent's obligation to step up and suggest that maybe it won't make a great career, but an excellent hobby. Just a thought...

Jayne Martin Dressing said...

I couldn't agree more with this article. I think we worry excessively/obsessively about kids' feelings to a fault. My experience teaching freshman college students has convinced me that many of these students were given good grades and awards in high school just because they were nice kids, and not because they could write a complete sentence. No one wanted them to feel bad about themselves if they earned a bad grade. They were shocked and outraged that they earned a "C" on their first essays in my course. "I've never received less than an 'A'," they'd complain. But they still had so much to learn. It reminded me of the dad in the article explaining to his son that he hadn't quite earned the respect of the doctors long enough to be included in their conversations about patients. A series of people from teachers to parents were far too generous with their praise and inflated grades. A friend's 20 year old daughter recently quit two of her first very professional jobs after graduating early from college. Her reasons were that her bosses and co-workers were "stupid" and "suburban." She complained that the work she was being asked to do was "beneath her." At twenty! Mind you, my friend is still paying all her bills.

StuntMom said...

I just got back from a trip to Chicago with my Mother-in-law and a friend and her daughter, along with my three kids. It was a great trip, all around, but I had a hard time getting over the fact that my Mother-in-law wouldn't put up with my two year old going through the turnstyle doors by herself. She is at the age where she MUST do everything for herself. My Mother-in-Law thought it was dangerous, so would pick her up screaming and carry her through the push door. I of course kept thinking, oh dear, she is going to be stunted on her independence, but again it's the obsessive nature to do everything that the books say to do. But in reality, I'm certain she will be okay over the temporary loss of independence. I need to be able to just let some things go sometimes and be okay with my kids not getting their way in effort to avoid a scene.