Saturday, January 21, 2012

Self Esteem - Given or Earned

There has been a lot of talk lately that the idea of telling children how wonderful they are all the time may have done more harm than good.  I could have told them that years ago.  For one thing, you cannot give a child self esteem, they must earn it by their successes.

The idea of giving every child who joins a team a trophy just for showing up takes away from the child who performs well.  It also takes away any desire to succeed.  After all, why should you work hard if you're going to be treated the same as the one who just "shows up".  When my son played football, he  was a member of a team that came in first and received that trophy as a member of a team, but he said the one he was most proud of was the one he received for Most Improved Player.  That one meant something, it meant he accomplished something on his own.

When I was in school, there was one girl who always won the General Excellence medal every term.  There were times when I thought it was not fair.  There should have been a limit on how many she would get, someone else should have had a chance.  The truth was that she was the best and by losing every term, I realized that, I had to work hard to try to take that honor.  I didn't succeed, but I did learn to work hard, even though I did lose. 

I remember one time when my mother was playing a game with my sons.  I noticed that she tried to let him win.  I called her on that and said that it was important that they learned to be both a good winner and a good loser.  Things would not always work out the way they wanted, they had to be able to bounce back from a loss and to enjoy a true win.

I'll probably take a lot of flack for this statement, but I'm saying it anyway.  I wonder if some of the children who are/were victims of bullying would have acted differently if they hadn't been told for most of their lives that they were wonderful, perfect human beings, that there were no winners or losers, that everyone is equally wonderful.  When I was growing up, there was a saying that we learned:

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.  And when I die, you will cry for all the names you called me."

It's good to remember those words.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is so true. I think we are now seeing the results of this profuse complimenting and give them whatever they ask for mentality. I really blame Mr Rogers for all these whinning teens, the ones at fast food places that with the whiny voices that are hard to understand. linda