Marcia - posted on 06/30/2011 ( 1 mom has responded )
I am reading a book about Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman, PhD. He also writes about Raising Optimistic Children. One of the most striking things I have taken away from his work, and others of similar philosophy, is that the emphasis on self esteem for children has really backfired. Many educators (often on the urging of parents and psychologists) and parents seem to have adopted an almost obsessive protectiveness of a "childs self esteem" as if it is so fragile that it cannot tolerate criticism , failure or rejection. Children can't be given self esteem via compliments and avoidance of struggle or failure--they gain self confidence and esteem by mastery and competence. I consider myself a liberal person, and am middle class and college educated but I find many of my parenting "cohorts" to be a little to indulgent of their children. I don't just mean this in a material sense, but in how much time and attention is allocated to their children and THEIR interests: Children should never be bored, or forced to do things that "make them uncomfortable." It really concerns me that children, who are developmentally quite self centered, are reinforced to think of themselves all the time. I think it can inadvertently weaken childrens character and ability to cope when they are protected from social rejection, or failure, or discomfort.