Are we over inflating our children’s self-esteem? Is everything they do actually “amazing”? Does getting a trophy for simply participating on a sports team really set them up for success in the real world? I have been struggling with this concept as my sons have been growing up and I see all around us an unhealthy tendency to never let kids experience failure. I think one of the best things that ever happened to my youngest son Ryan was when he worked really hard for over three years to earn his black belt in Tae Kwon Do and tested for it about 16 months ago…and he failed the test. He and the other seven year olds in his class had an all day testing event that really pushed them to demonstrate their knowledge. In the last trial of the day, he didn’t break the board as was required to earn the black belt. They could have said “Hey, he tried really hard so we will go ahead and give it to him.” But, they didn’t and I believe they did him a huge favor. There were 10 kids in his age group and none of them passed that day. I was proud that Ryan was the only one who didn’t get upset or cry over this disappointment. He calmly said he would try harder next time…and he did. He worked hard for the next four months, tested again and received his black belt a few weeks after his 8th birthday. He experienced failure, shook it off, worked hard and tried again…that is how to succeed in the real world.
I came across the article below from J. Fraser Field and was drawn to his conclusions about self-esteem and the harm we may be doing to our children. After you read his article, please come back and post your comments. Does this idea of overdoing it on self-esteem resonate with you?
The New Curriculum: Reading, Writing, and Self-esteem
By J. Fraser Field
One of the most dominant articles of faith pervading the modern curriculum is the notion that children can’t achieve and won’t succeed unless they have high self-esteem.
In parochial and public schools, in reading and writing, in health class and on the sports field, making students feel good about themselves has become a foundational goal in the modern classroom.
To read the full article, click here.