Self-Esteem In Kids

Has any topic gotten more play in parenting and education circles over the last twenty years than self-esteem?

I sincerely hope we’ve moved past what I call the False Self-Esteem Syndrome. Too many people have advocated that we tell kids everything they do is brilliant in order to “build up their self-esteem.”

There are so many things wrong with that approach that one can barely skim the surface in a blog entry, but I shall try. First, by its very definition, self-esteem comes from the self, which means it can’t be given by someone else! Therefore, “building up someone else’s self-esteem” is a fool’s errand at best and completely contrary to the actual goal at worst.

Second, kids should certainly be encouraged to pursue knowledge and skills that interest them, but honest parents have an obligation to truly assess the results. Perhaps there wouldn’t be quite so many disastrous performances in the opening episodes of American Idol every season if more parents were honest about their children’s ability. Finally, real self-esteem should come from doing the right thing and making the right choices, not from kids being told that they did a good job on something or having everyone in a classroom get the same grade or comments so nobody feels bad.

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