The Van Trump Report

With Kids All at Home, Here’s a Little Something for Parents to Debate

As you know I have argued for many years that building a false sense of high self-esteem in our children was a very slippery slope. Finally, more psychologists are getting on the same page and starting to change their tune. The Wall Street Journal ran an article that showed how in the past many parents, educators, and medical practitioners believed that high self-esteem was a predictor of happiness and success. Meaning if parents and educators could help build self-esteem the odds of success in our children would be much greater.

Unfortunately, most looked at the data wrong and elected to dole out “I-tried-trophies” and add constant praise so nobody had their feeling hurt. What researchers are now finding is what I have been saying for years, “self-esteem does NOT predict positive outcomes, but rather high self-esteem is the result or byproduct of good performance, rather than the cause.”  

It is being argued that many children are now facing much tougher times when they grow up. I would like to see the numbers on “depression” or “anxiety” related problems of those who were educated or raised by parents who are guilty of building false self-esteem vs. those children who have actually had to struggle and work hard to gain self-confidence. 

I’ve pointed out so many times, as parents, we often want to help our children and make things easier on them, but I quickly reference the story of the caterpillar turning into a butterfly. It is the fight and struggle of breaking out of the cocoon that helps it turn into a beautiful butterfly. If we go over and help bust it out early because we see it struggling the butterfly will never fully develop. 

I am certainly not saying that our children should not feel valued, accepted and loved. But what I am saying is children need honesty and a serious dose of reality to prepare them for the tough journey ahead. In other words you “earn” and create high self-esteem by working hard and achieving positive results, you don’t simply receive or are entitled to high self-esteem!. Self-confidence is earned NOT given!  Below is an expert:

Exaggerated praise can do harm, according to a study of children ages 8 to 13 published this month in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. Parents who noticed that their children felt bad about themselves tended to pump up the praise when working with them, saying things like, “You’re so smart,” or, “You’re such a good artist,” researchers found.

But those children felt ashamed when they were defeated later in a simulated computer game; other children who received more realistic praise that focused on their effort or behavior didn’t feel any shame, according to the study led by researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Well-meaning adults “may foster in children with low self-esteem the very emotional vulnerability they are trying to prevent,” the study says. 

When researchers tried to lift the grades of struggling college students by raising their self-esteem, the students’ grades got worse, according to a study of students published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. Showering them with messages aimed at making them feel good about themselves may have instilled “a cavalier, defensive attitude,” causing them to study less, the study says.

Children who have a realistic understanding of how they are seen by others tend to be more resilient. In a study, preteens played an online version of “Survivor,” posting personal profiles and receiving peer ratings on their likability. All the kids who received low ratings experienced a drop in self-esteem, gauged via scores on a scale including such items as, “I feel good about who I am right now.” But those who started the game with grandiose views of themselves and inflated feelings of superiority suffered the biggest declines in self-esteem, says the study in Child Development.

As many are forced to do more educating at home, I thought this would be something interesting to debate and throw in the mix. As if any of us need more to argue and debate about:) 

The Struggle is Needed

One day as a small opening appeared on a cocoon, a man sat for several hours watching the butterfly struggle to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress.

It appeared as if it had got as far as could and it could go no farther. So the man decided to help the butterfly.

He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

He thought that the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened in fact; the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wing. It never was able to fly.

What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricted cocoon and the struggle required by the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings. Then the butterfly would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were allowed to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could be. We could never fly.

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