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108 of 144 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Self-Esteem Movement is Setting Our Kids up for Failure, June 26, 2006
This review is from: Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before (Hardcover)
This is a well-written and well-researched book that shows how detrimental our focus on self-esteem and self-fulfillment has become for the current generation. Some excerpts:

"Self-esteem programs are empty and shortsighted. Self-esteem based on nothing does not serve children well in the long run. It is better for children to develop real skills and feel good about accomplishing something."

"Extensive review of the research on self-esteem found that self-esteem does not lead to better grades, improved work performance, decreased violence, or less cheating. People with high self-esteem are often more violent and more likely to cheat."

"Instead of creating well-adjusted, happy children, the self-esteem movement has created an army of little narcissists. Narcissism is a very negative personality trait linked to aggression and poor relationships with others. Children are naturally self-centered; growing up is the process of learning how to empathize with other people."

5 things parents and teachers can do:

1. Get rid of the phrases, "You can be anything you want to be" and "Never give up on your dreams." Both statements are totally untrue. You can't be good at everything... no one is. And, sometimes you have to put true desires on hold while you deal with practical matters such as paying the bills and managing unexpected events. Even a very skilled baseball player is unlikely to make it all the way to the major leagues. An incredibly talented actress probably won't become a movie star. Young people shouldn't be discouraged from these professions, just made aware of how difficult it probably will be.

2. Get rid of "You must love yourself before you can love others." Narcissists are horrible relationship partners... duh! We develop a sense of ourselves from our relationships with others, and people who have good relationships with others are happier, less depressed, and have higher self-esteem.

3. Do not automatically side with your child. If a child says she failed a test because the teacher was unfair, defending her by going after the teacher shows her that she can blame others for her problems. Instead, children should learn to identify what they could have done to get a better grade. Children who believe that the grades are just arbitrarily decided by the teacher may not see any point in studying.

4. Limit exposure to violence. Huge amounts of scientific evidence show that kids exposed to violent media go on to act aggressively in real life. Some will say, "I played violent video games, and I am not a violent person." That may be true, but science shows average effects across hundreds of people, not individual experiences.

5. Junk the self-esteem movement, and instead teach self-control and good behavior. Self-control is linked to success in life. Help your children to see the consequences of the actions in their lives. If a child cries for a piece of candy at the store, and you give it to her, she has just learned that crying is an effective way to get what you desire. So, she will cry when she wants something next time, because that worked last time. Instead, give treats for good behavior. Don't cave in just because it temporarily feels better. Teach your children the importance of working toward goals. Discipline doesn't always mean punishment. It usually means not rewarding poor behavior, and praising good behavior.
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Showing 1-10 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 28, 2007 2:16:27 AM PST
Jane Marie says:
I think this post and the Me Generation book both completely misunderstand what fostering self esteem in children is really all about. It's about loving them unconditionally, saying you are good and worthy and special--and so, inherently, is everyone else. It's like seeing the God in people and in the world, and those who are viewed in this loving way learn to be loving, accepting and more empathetic themselves. They are the last people in the world who would be narcissistic or self-centered: those are usually the people who need more, more more because they never felt they were enough of and in themselves. Fostering self esteem is not about giving a child a falsely high opinion of himself or never disciplining him or having him shirk his share of the work. It is about letting children know they are loved just because they are and that they don't have to win prizes or possesions or honors or status to be worthy human beings. If today's young are materialistic, I think the reason can be seen in our society and its values and not the self esteem movement.

Posted on Mar 1, 2007 2:57:24 PM PST
What a great post.
The problem is that we have created a sense of entitlement for children, so much so, that they are unable to cope with the disapointments of the real world.
In school its all about everyone winning and not feeling left out, which has led to this "me" generation. Instead of subjecting our children to the hard truths about life at an age where the consequences are much less severe.

Posted on Mar 21, 2007 11:22:54 AM PDT
joefnblow says:
I completely disagree with the idea that, "You can be anything you want to be" and "Never give up on your dreams." are totally untrue statements. I was always told that, still believe it and feel I am proof that it is in fact the case. The missing link is that my dreams are and must be realistic and in order to be what I want to be I WILL and DO have to work very hard. Beyond that being what I want to be is not necessarily sexy in the Hollywood sense (a good father, husband, sucessful in my chosen career, etc.)

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2007 2:56:06 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Aug 6, 2007 10:58:26 AM PDT]

Posted on May 11, 2007 9:06:19 PM PDT
Your definition of narcissism is a bit skewed. A narcissist is someone who is in love with themself, which is unfortunate. Loving yourself is healthy and normal.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 18, 2008 9:47:07 AM PST
Yo says:
Have you actually read the book?

Posted on Jan 29, 2008 10:04:52 PM PST
Doug Randall says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 12, 2008 9:11:04 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 12, 2008 9:11:33 AM PST
K. Henderson says:
Glen, I did read the entire book and noted some quotes and some solutions for the problems discussed in the book. Just because my review doesn't meet with your approval doesn't mean that what I have to say isn't worthwhile. Disagree with me if you like, but recommending "deletion" is to say that my opinion should be silenced because you don't like it. Really???? And next you'll be advocating book burning?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 14, 2008 9:58:02 AM PST
K. Henderson says:
Yes, Yocheved, I did read the book in its entirety. Did you? All the quotes and solutions come directly from the book. Duh.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 14, 2008 10:00:18 AM PST
K. Henderson says:
V. Olivas, the definition of narcissism is a direct quote from the book. I even put quotation marks around it. These are the author's words, not mine. Duh.
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