Are we building kids up too high?

Self esteem is such a fragile thing. It can be built up or destroyed with the utterance of one word or a look that isn’t perceived well. Self esteem helps us to make the decisions in our life, whether they be for good or bad.self esteem, core beliefsCore beliefs play a big role in developing self esteem. When a child is supported by those around them, their self esteem can soar. However I think that there needs to be a middle ground between supporting everything that our children do, and giving them a reality check when they need it. I believe that this balance helps children to develop healthy self esteem.

I am part of Generation Y, and there seems to be an overwhelming feeling that we are the first generation to tip the other way in self esteem. Now, for anyone who knows me, they know that my self esteem is pretty rock bottom. I fake it until I make it. However there is a belief that Gen Y have been built up so high that we believe that we are invincible.

The first thing that I have to acknowledge is that my parents lumped on the praise. The believed in me, and my abilities like a parent should. Yet, here I am with my self esteem dragging on the ground. I tell everyone that I am awesome, yet there is feeling under the surface that I am just waiting to be found out. I don’t feel like I am invincible.

The next generation is believed to be even further wrapped in cotton wool. So does that mean that they are being set up for the downfall when they reach the ‘real’ world? Is that why the world resilience is being thrown around so much?

I don’t think that we need to stop building our children up, I think that we need to teach them that they can try anything. I think that the trouble only begins when we start telling them that they can win at everything because this really isn’t the truth. I believe that, that is when we run into trouble. I know for me it certainly did.

The primary school that I went to was in a small town. Our whole school had around 60 students. My grade had 6 students. I won Dux of my school two years in a row. All of that came crashing down when I went to highschool and changed schools. I was still in a small school, but I had 30 students in my class. My self esteem took a big hit as I went from being top of the class to being average.

Self esteem, we are taught that it needs to come from within, that we need to love ourselves for being who we are. Yet we spend our parenting lives building up the self esteem of our children. Of course they feel it when not everyone is as invested as their parents, or they don’t develop it at all when there is no adult in their lives to build it up.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing to build our kids up, to help them to believe that they can try anything they want to. I believe that self esteem is a fluid thing, we don’t have low self esteem in front of everyone, we all have people that we are comfortable with and those people help to build up our self esteem. So maybe we need to keep building our kids up, and teaching them about people to trust with their self esteem.

Do you think that today’s kids are getting too much of a self esteem boost? What do you do with your kids to help build their self esteem?

11 thoughts on “Are we building kids up too high?

  1. Kathy

    I don’t think there is such a thing as too much self-esteem. I think we need to teach our kids not to be selfish and overly self-focused (empathy) and I’m a big one for resilience as I think it works hand in hand with self-esteem because our kids aren’t going to be ‘perfect’ and our world is never going to be ‘perfect’ and we just need them to know (and model it ourselves) that they/we are all enough.

  2. Kirsty @ My Home Truths

    The everyone wins thing has cost us dearly with our son who has ASD and just doesn’t get that things are not always fair and will not always go his way. With everyone getting a prize in pass the parcel and in every other activity at parties and special events, it is hard for kids to understand that that is not always how things work. I do believe in building up self-esteem but it needs to be balanced by having real conversations with your kids about winning and losing, treating others with respect and learning to be graceful and polite and considerate in all situations. As usual Tegan, very thought provoking post!

  3. Vanessa

    I sometimes feel like I went through school right at the last possible time it was “normal”, though that’s what created my normal and everyone probably thinks that!
    A lecturer of mine once quoted a series of people from history – I think about this often and wish I knew the source of this. Basically it was about how when fountain pens came along, the ink pot and quill people said handwriting was dead and would never be the same. Then ballpoint pens came along and the fountain pen people said the same thing the ink pot people said…it went on in this fashion.
    I guess every generation has a set of challenges that they need to overcome. I really effing hate the generation classifications, but I’m going to use on here, because an example I’ve been thinking about recently is about gen x. Weren’t they supposed to be the downfall of society because of that scary grunge music? And what do most gen x people do now: exactly what most people in history do; work and have jobs.
    Maybe kids are the thing that brings society down from whatever generational issue exists? It’s an interesting topic.
    Though I have to say this “everyone get a prize” crap I’ve heard of is exactly that – crap. Way to set up the wrong expectations for life…

  4. Robyn

    Real food for thought here. I totally agree the we shouldn’t build our kids up to be invincible because it will only lead them into trouble later in life, but at the same time without self belief will they still try. Gosh this is one of those parenting things that I wish came with a manual. It’s really hard to know how to get the balance just right x

  5. Eva @ The Multitasking Mummy

    To be honest, I can’t really remember my parents being over the top with praise, nor can I really remember doing it at all (but they probably did). I pretty much went through all my ups and downs on my own, I learnt from my mistakes and what didn’t work and that’s what has helped me grow my self-esteem…but it’s taken me 32 years to get to that point because I guess in many cases, I was left to my own devices to ‘find’ my self esteem. I’ve never ever thought if I’m giving my son too much of a self esteem boost or not, I’m just myself and parent. Of course I offer encouragement, I let him know when he’s done a good job or if he’s done something correctly, but I don’t go overboard. I think there could be a point where too much praise could be more harmful than good in that they will start to be seekers of praise and look for attention. Now that I keep writing, yes, there’s a fine line and I don’t want to praise my son so much that when he’s older and working, he is a person that always needs it, but I want to give enough that supports his confidence. That’s a tough one.

  6. Pinky Poinker

    I think resilience must be taught alongside self-esteem. Kids need to know they can always get back up on the horse. The self-esteem should also be based on the type of person they are and how they are skilled at interacting with other people not about how good they are at something or how pretty they are. To me, being able to maintain friendships and relationships is the key. But I’m no expert.

  7. Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me

    I say the world is SO quick to cut everyone down that you can never have too much self confidence, not arrogance or ego but self confidence. I wish I had more as a kid, even now, It’s something I work hard on with my kids x

  8. rory

    My parents were slow to praise. Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Showing too much praise means it loses impact, being slow with praise creates overwillingness to impress. Its a fine line and I think you’re on the money. Your self esteem shouldn’t be dictated by those who don’t neccessarily care for it.

  9. Kylie Purtell - A Study in Contradictions

    “I believe that self esteem is a fluid thing, we don’t have low self esteem in front of everyone, we all have people that we are comfortable with and those people help to build up our self esteem. So maybe we need to keep building our kids up, and teaching them about people to trust with their self esteem.”

    This is so true. I’ve always felt this but had never been able to put it in to words. I think there is a very fine line between helping kids to reach their full potential and setting them up for a fall. I want my girls to have the confidence to try anything they want, but also the understanding that they won’t be good at everything and that’s ok too. I’m not a fan of the whole “everybody wins” or not keeping score scenarios you hear of in kids sports and such these days because it really does set kids up for bitter disappointments later in life. You won’t always be a winner and there is nothing wrong with that, and I think the earlier kids learn that lesson the better, and if we can build their self-esteem in the right way then they won’t be as crushed as they could be when they don’t win at something.

  10. Lisa Wood

    I think that self esteem is important but its a fine line to not over praise!!! Giving them confidence is a good thing, and letting them believe in their dreams is really important.
    Great blog post 🙂


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