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It's Time to End the "Self-Esteem" Mistake

Posted by Dave on July 29, 2010 at 9:05 AM

The well intentioned but misguided "Self-Esteem" movement has held sway in public schools since the early 1980s. Here's why I agree with a growing number of psychologists, educators and parents who think it's time to put an end to it.

 

1   Self-esteem was never the point - it's really just a side-effect - the result of success from hard work. Psychologists and educators agree that self-control is a far more valuable attribute and a better predictor of future success than self-esteem.

 

2   "You can be anything you want to be" is a myth that explodes when kids enter the adult world. Desire, no matter how strong, doesn't equal talent or skill, and the competition for the most desired careers is intense.

 

3   Cheating in high school and college increased dramatically between 1992 and 2002 it rose a whopping 61%, with more than 80% of students admitting to cheating. More recent studies (2012) show that it's finally beginning to decline - a bit.

 

4   Individualism and the focus on self have coincided with a steady increase in divorce. Young people are having an increasingly difficult time building sustainable, realistic, relationships.

 

5   Kids are taught not to compare themselves with others, but that is exactly what will happen when they enter the competitive world of college admissions and the workplace.

 

6   Kids are not given constructive criticism or told they need to work harder, and as a result never learn how to improve their performance. When they reach the workplace, many crumble when their bosses criticize their work and pressure them to improve.

 

7   The focus on the self has resulted in a huge drop in volunteerism and membership in political, community, and fraternal organizations. This doesn't bode well for the health of our country and communities.

 

 8   "I don't care what other people think, I'm going to do and be what I want." To a point, this is fine. But, too many young people are taking this to an extreme, and find it difficult to fit in anywhere. Psychological studies over the last two decades show a massive increase in self-reported loneliness.

 

Bottom line, it's time to pull the plug on the "self-esteem" movement. Some lazy teachers like it because it makes kids more docile and easier to handle, but overall, it offers more negatives than positives.

The message needs to be modified to be more realistic. Be encouraging; be honest about their performance (or lack of it); don't tell kids they're "stupid" or "worthless"; stress hard work, self-control, and achievement.

 

Categories: General Topics

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