Archive for the ‘Self Esteem’ Category

If everyone gets trophies then trophies become meaningless

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

 

This time of year, there are many commencement speeches, in fact no fewer than 37,000 which is the number of high schools alone in the U.S.  

But the speech by Wellesley High English teacher David McCullough Jr. is blunt and honest because he told students they “are not special.”

Here is a brief exerpt from his speech:

“Across the country no fewer than 3.2 million seniors are graduating about now from more than 37,000 high schools. That’s 37,000 valedictorians … 37,000 class presidents … 92,000 harmonizing altos … 340,000 swaggering jocks … 2,185,967 pairs of Uggs,” he said.

He added: “Even if you’re one in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you.”

McCullough makes a statement on parents who overdo it in a modern society focused on collecting achievements. “You’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble wrapped … feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie.” But he adds in a video on Wellesley Channel TV YouTube page, “You see, if everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless. … We have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement.”

The point is that learning is wonderful, mistakes happen and experience makes you stronger.  All time is borrowed so make the most of it.  Work backwards as to how you would want people to talk about you in this short time we call life. 

You Only Live Once, but as the speaker says, that doesn’t mean you have to get YOLO as a tattoo. 

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

 

 

Yes, you can be replaced

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Mother Nature has a very strange way of harming and protecting us at the same time.  The devastating earthquake in Japan stole the headlines from Charlie Sheen.

I fought my instincts to  give Mr. Sheen additional undeserved attention, but the magazine covers on the supermarket checkout line beckoned me to state an opinion.

Interesting that Mr. Sheen felt irreplaceable, which relates to a recent NY Times article by David Brooks on our overwhelming overconfidence.

Healthy self-esteem is a good thing to have, but we can’t all be ‘A’ players, students, workers, dancers, singers, etc. and we all certainly can’t be the winners we believe we are.  The majority of people are average; hence the concept of average.

Cheer for your basketball player, applaud for your dancer, give confidence to your student, but more importantly, encourage them to be better for their sake of their own continuous improvement.

“The cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable men.”

-        Charles de Gaulle

As you know, your families are the only people who find you irreplaceable.

The Sad Misuse of Self-Esteem by Dr. Jim Taylor

Monday, June 14th, 2010

The Sad Misuse of Self-esteem

Parental Wisdom® welcomes guest blogger Dr. Jim Taylor

Self-esteem is the most misunderstood and misused developmental factor of the past thirty years. Child-rearing experts in the early 1970s decided that all of the efforts of our society should be devoted to helping children build self-esteem. I couldn’t agree more. Children with high self-esteem have been found to perform better in school and sports, have better relationships, and have lower rates of problem behavior.

The Wrong Message About Self-Esteem

Unfortunately, these same experts told parents that the best way to develop self-esteem was to ensure that children always felt good about themselves. Parents were told to love and praise and reinforce and reward and encourage their children no matter what they did. Unfortunately, this approach created children who were selfish, spoiled, and entitled.

Parents were also led to believe that they had to be sure that their children never felt bad about themselves because it would hurt their self-esteem. So parents did everything they could to protect their children from anything that might create bad feelings. Parents didn’t scold their children when they misbehaved. Parents didn’t discipline their children when they didn’t give their best effort in school. In sum, parents didn’t hold their children accountable for their actions, particularly if they made mistakes or failed—“Gosh, that would just hurt my little one’s self-esteem!”

Schools and communities bought into this misguided attempt at building self-esteem by “protecting” children from feeling bad about themselves. For example, school grading systems were changed. I remember between sixth and seventh grade my middle school replaced F for failure with NI (Needs Improvement). God forbid I’d feel bad about myself for failing at something! Sports eliminated scoring, winners, and losers in the belief that losing would hurt children’s self-esteem. My four-year-old niece came home one day from a soccer tournament with a ribbon that said “#1-Winner” on it. When I asked her what she did to deserve such a wonderful prize, she said that everyone got one! Though Woody Allen once said that 90 percent of success is just showing up, it’s the last 10 percent—the part that requires hard work, discipline, patience, and perseverance—that true success is all about. Children are being led to believe that, like Woody Allen’s view, they can become successful and feel good about themselves just for showing up. But showing up is just not enough in today’s demanding society. By rewarding children just for showing up, they aren’t learning what it really takes to become successful and showing up definitely won’t build self-esteem.

The supposed benefit of this mentality is that children’s self-esteem is protected. If children aren’t responsible for all of the bad things that happen to them, then they can’t feel bad about themselves and their self-esteem won’t be hurt. This belief has been bolstered by the culture of victimization in which we live—“It’s not my fault, it’s not my kid’s fault. But someone has to be held responsible and we’re going to sue them.” In its poorly conceived attempt to protect children’s self-esteem, our society caused the very thing that it took such pains to prevent—children with low self-esteem, no sense of responsibility, and the emotional and behavioral problems that go with it.

Of course children need to feel loved and protected. This sense of security allows them to feel comfortable venturing out to explore their world. But we have gone way too far in protecting our children from life’s harsh realities. In fact, with this preoccupation with protecting our children, those so-called parenting experts neglected to tell parents about the other, equally important contributor to mature and healthy self-esteem.

The Missing Piece of Self-esteem

The second part of self-esteem that those parenting experts forgot to mention to parents is that children need to develop a sense of ownership of their actions, that their actions matter, that their actions have consequences; “If I do good things, good things happen, if I do bad things, bad things happen, and if I do nothing, nothing happens.” The antithesis of this approach is the spoiled child; whether they do good, bad, or nothing, they get what they want. Unfortunately, without this sense of ownership, children are thoroughly unprepared for the adulthood because in the real world our actions do have consequences.

This sense of ownership, and the self-esteem that accompanies it, is two sides of the same coin. If children don’t take ownership of their mistakes and failures, they can’t have ownership of their successes and achievements. And without that ownership, children can’t ever really feel good about themselves or experience the meaning, satisfaction, and joy of owning their efforts. Also, without the willingness to take ownership, children are truly victims; they’re powerless to change the bad things that might happen to them. With a sense of ownership, children learn that when things are not going well, they have the power to make changes in their lives for the better.

The goal is to raise children with both components of real self-esteem, in which they not only feel loved and valued, but also have that highly developed sense of ownership. Yes, they’re going to feel bad when they make mistakes and fail. But you want your children to feel bad when they screw up! How else are they going to learn what not to do and what they need to do to do better in the future? But, contrary to popular belief, these experiences will build, not hurt, their self-esteem. By allowing them to take ownership of their lives—achievements and missteps alike—your children gain the ability to change the bad experiences, and create and savor the good experiences.

Developing Real Self-esteem

Your challenge is to help your children understand how self-esteem develops. Much of your parenting should be devoted to helping your children develop this healthy self-esteem rather than the false self-esteem that is epidemic in our society. You must allow your children to experience this connection—both success and failure—in all areas of their lives, including school, sports, the performing arts, relationships, family responsibilities, and other activities. Your children’s essential need to have these experiences will require you to eschew the culture of victimization that pervades modern society. You must give your children the opportunity to develop real self-esteem so they can fully experience all aspects of life, including the failures and disappointments as well as the accomplishments and joys.

Recommendations for Building Self-esteem

  • Love them regardless of how they perform.
  • Give them opportunities to demonstrate their competence.
  • Focus on areas over which they have control (e.g., their efforts rather than results).
  • Encourage your children to take appropriate risks.
  • Allow your children to experience failure and then help them learn its essential lessons.
  • Set expectations for their behavior.
  • Demand accountability.
  • Have consequences for bad behavior.
  • Include them in decision making.

Simon is usally right

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

In an earlier post, American Idol and Microwaves, I wrote about the rudeness, rejection and harsh criticism contestants face especially from Simon Cowell.

The truth is that I usually have the same opinion as Simon before I even hear what he has to say, and I have as much ability to judge as Ellen Degeneres.

The point of that post and why it is resurfacing is because despite what anyone says, you have to believe in yourself.  I just read a quote from Lada Gaga which is part of her upcoming interview in Cosmopolitan magazine that is worth sharing:

“I had a boyfriend who told me I’d never succeed, never be nominated for a Grammy, never have a hit song, and that he hoped I’d fail. I said to him, ‘Someday, when we’re not together, you won’t be able to order a cup of coffee at the f***ing deli without hearing or seeing me.’”

All I can say is – you go Gaga!

Too much reliance on my GPS

Thursday, February 4th, 2010
I’ve been used to my GPS constantly correcting me and requesting that I make a legal U-turn when possible; but the other day it simply didn’t work.  There I was, left to fend for myself.
Quite frankly I am directionally challenged, and not able to look at a map and figure out where I am or where I’m headed. At that point I realized how much dependency I put on the GPS, and now it failed me.  In reality I failed myself by not having enough of a foundation to figure things out.  I realized that without the GPS, I was lost.
There isn’t any difference in the world of parenting.  Our job is to give our children a good foundation, but it’s the confidence they build in handling situations that creates one of life’s most important characteristics; self reliance.  Much like me without the GPS, your children will be lost without self-reliance.
Think about how we teach children to ride a two-wheeler.  You put the training wheels on and then kept loosening them up little by little until they are confident enough to take the ride without any training wheels at all.
p.s. Great hint – -when you’re running along side the bike, it’s a great idea for you to be in rollerblades.  It makes the job so much easier!
Here are some ways to make sure that you’re heading in the right direction in teaching self-reliance (no pun intended):
  1. Let the kids make some decisions as early as possible.  So what if they’re wearing stripes and polka-dots?
  2. Demonstrate that you are always solving little problems and learning along the way.  Aren’t you?  After all, who figured out how to install the new TV?
  3. Move from being ‘the all wise and powerful’ mom or dad to a coach.  Tell them less about how they should do something, and instead raise questions they could answer for themselves.  “Why do you think your friends responded that way?”
  4. Be a great support system.  They might need your encouragement to try again, or a little harder, or in taking a slightly different approach.  If they come to you for permission to give up, don’t make it so easy for them.
  5. Responsibilities are very important for building self reliance.  Even with very young children, assign chores that make them part of a family that works together.  For example, for a child as young as age 3, take digital pictures of them making their bed; 1) put the pillow in place, 2) smooth the sheets and lift the blankets, and 3) lift and smooth out the comforter.  Laminate the pictures and put them near the bed so they can see how well they did.
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It’s a bird; it’s a plane, it’s a helicopter parent

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

helicopter

Helicopter Parent: “A mom or dad who hovers over his or her children.”

In case you haven’t heard the term, “Helicopter Parents,” are always hovering–always helping–always rescuing–and always involved.

These are the parents who micromanage their kids’ play dates, science fair projects, and soccer game tournaments.

In high school they drive the teachers batty by hovering in at the first sign of a bad grade, making sure their kid’s schedule was stellar (with only the very best teachers), and writing those college entrance essays.

In college they are first on the scene setting up their kid’s dorm room (and complaining if the roommate wasn’t the perfect fit), and even calling the university president to complain about an unfair grade. Cell phones and e-mail have created umbilical bonds that are difficult to cut.

Well, now the kiddies have graduated and they are entering the workforce in mass numbers. It seems these parents are still hovering, but from all indications, their presence is now up a level — think “Black Hawk” mode. According to major businesses from coast to coast these parents are actually attending their kids job
fairs and interviews, negotiating salaries and benefit packages for their children and even demanding that the business call to let them know if their offspring got the job. And businesses are scratching their heads. What do we do with these parents?

Many are actually changing their long-standing practices to send notices of hiring intent to the parents as well as the kids.

This is over-the-top parenting. This isn’t mentoring but meddlesome, and it can rob kids of the self-reliance they need at this point in their grown-up lives. What can these kids fall back on if they have no internal resources of learning and failing because parents protected them from any ever experiencing failure?

Ask yourself a question before you jump in to save your child. What is the worst thing that can happen if you don’t step in?

If there was such a thing as a parent’s job description, it would probably say that we should raise happy, healthy, well-adjusted, independent children that contribute to society. Don’t wait till your child is twenty to celebrate Independence Day. Even very young children can and should have chores.

Though well-intentioned, the self-esteem movement of the last twenty years is what many believe to be the cause with the lack of self reliance many ‘twenty-somethings’ now face. Interestingly, that movement
started about the same time you would see those annoying ‘Baby on Board’ signs on cars.

It’s actually very simple. If you want your child to have self esteem, give them responsibilities. Begin when they are little with simple chores, and continue on as they get older.

Visit Parental Wisdom - Free Reports, and get a copy of the Chore Chart Ideas for a few ideas; add your own creativity. For example, if you want a four-year-old to pull up his bed covers every morning, take a few digital pictures of each step in the process and label the pictures with a big #1, #2 and #3 for each step. Leave it on a small poster so he will know and remember what to do. That will make your child feel good about his achievements and he is more likely to take on more responsibility.

This is one of the best ways to communicate with, and stay connected to your child.
Great way to avoid all the helicopter traffic.

Pee Pee Targets

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

Pop quiz

Question: What do toilet training targets have to do with census data?

Answer: Everything.

We start early by giving our kids rewards for doing things they should do. We understood this sort of positive reinforcement encourages children to do the behaviors that we want them to do.

Ah! Therein lies the problem, the word behaviors. Are we raising children or seals?

Somewhere in this generation of parenting, we were told that giving children things to get them to do things was a good idea.

It is not. It is a terrible idea.

To make matters worse the concept of rewards for doing things you should do is creeping into all areas of our life.

School districts are rewarding children for grades by giving them monetary incentives. I was never in favor of giving kids money for good grades and now school districts are doing this.

I remember hosting a school clean up while PTO president as a way to have families connect with each other. A 4th grader, who had just swept the steps came over and told me, “I’m done, what do I get?” I replied, “The good feeling that comes with a job well done.” He was surprised that there wasn’t a ribbon or sticker or trophy.

Companies reward people for doing the job they are supposed to do. Isn’t a job an agreement to do certain tasks for a certain salary? If that is the case, then rewards only come into play when the job objectives are exceeded, not met.

More recently, the Census Bureau is looking at ways to increase the response rate, including the use of prizes as an incentive. The incentives can include winning an iPod, getting a Starbucks gift certificate or cash.

We have lost our minds. The reward for doing anything is intrinsic. The reward for your child getting good grades is about how he feels about working hard or even trying his best to get well deserved grades. The reward about peeing in the potty is that great feeling that comes with learning something new.

Whether the reward is stickers or candy or money please think about this. How and when will you wean them off the reward and simply get them to do the right thing?

After all, isn’t teaching our kids to do the right thing is a key objective of parenting?

You are beautiful!

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

noelle.png

Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.
- Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC)

They called her Sunshine, the nickname given to Stephanie Kuleba, 18 because of her brightness, blond hair and personality. The South Florida teen died Saturday, about 24 hours after corrective breast plastic surgery. Gone are the hopes and dreams of a high school senior. All because of a reaction to anesthesia, proof that there’s no such thing as a simple procedure.

With all the things we need to tell our girls as they grow up, we need to let them know they are really beautiful.

Counter the myths of the beauty industry as few people can be a size 2. The beauty standards are too high for even the supermodels to follow, since most are photo-shopped.

Where does real beauty come from? Knowing who you are, and being happy with that.

Thank you Dove for reminding us of that. Please watch this [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaH4y6ZjSfE ].
Love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment.

Capitalizing on teachable moments

Monday, March 17th, 2008

spitzer.png

A good reputation is more valuable than money.
– Publilius Syrus 100 BC Maxims

In the midst of our incredibly busy days, parents search for something called quality time. But time is time, and each week we are given exactly 10,080 minutes; no more, no less. Time is the great equalizer – it doesn’t matter how much or how little money you have.

How we spend that time is what matters. Interestingly, we often spend time in things we can document, quantify or measure, such as activities like sports, school, chores, and work. But what matters more are the things you can’t measure, such as the impact of teachable moments. We need to look at those opportunities as gifts and capitalize on them.

Thank you Former Governor Spitzer. Thank you for giving us the opportunity the explain to our children the difference between little and big mistakes. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to ask our children a simple but very important question,

“What do you think your reputation is worth?”

Since we are surrounded by popular culture, what used to be considered infamous is now immediately considered famous. We are in the parenting fight of our lives and need to find opportunities to reinforce our values despite the world’s perceptions of values imploding around us.

The young woman in the Spitzer case stands to make millions from the publicity. Again, discuss with your children what her reputation is really worth? A new show called Moment of Truth offers large money prizes for true answers. Unless you’ve lead a Mother Teresa-like existence, I would suggest not trading your reputation and family embarrassment for dollars.

Despite your best attempts, you can’t be around your children all the time, so the next best thing is to make sure they are thinking before they act. No doubt they will make mistakes, but have discussions that reinforce the values you want to instill so you can at least minimize that possibility. I know you think children sometimes don’t listen, but they do. After all, if we didn’t listen, how could you explain that when we grow up we all sound just like our mothers or fathers.

As you end your discussion, put this seed in your child’s head;

“Before you do something – think, would you be proud or embarrassed for us to learn about it?”

That will tell them all they need to know.

Teenagers – Like Rodney Dangerfield, They Just Need Some Respect

Friday, January 18th, 2008

rodney.png

An article in The Patriot-News reminded me of a situation from a few years ago. We went to a movie theatre and just before the movie started, the door opened. The manager looked in, scanned the crowd and found a small group of adolescent kids who were eating popcorn and sipping soda, just like everyone else. The manager glared at them and yelled, “If you do anything, I’ll throw you out!”

They weren’t doing anything. I don’t know if some other incident happened earlier or another time, but at that moment, they were well-behaved.

I thought the manager was disrespectful and wondering how kids learn respect if they’re treated that way. Don’t get me wrong, there are adolescents and teens that behave badly, but stereotyping is wrong and unfair.

Let’s teach by example.