By jennagriffiths | June 3, 2011
Recently I interviewed Polly Young-Eisendrath on her latest book, the Self Esteem Trap.
Raising confident and compassionate kids in an age of self importance.
Polly maintains that modern parents are sabotaging their children with too much praise, too much help solving problems and too much focus on their needs and “specialness”.
She says that this style of parenting actually has the opposite effect of what is intended.
Instead of raising confident kids we end up raising young adults who are dissatisfied with life, fear humiliation and are self absorbed with why they aren’t as famous as their parents led them to anticipate.
Polly advocates a need for adversity (allowing a child to face and solve his/her own age specific problems) and learning from negative feedback,
nurturing compassion and the practice of being ordinary,
Even though most European cultures are not as self absorbed as North America, still
I think Swiss kids have an especially tough time because the school system teaches one to be socially responsible at the expense of individual expression.
If parents then focus on specialness and follow a parenting style that focuses on the child’s need to individuate, the child is really pressured from both sides.
Add to this the stringent exam process that only allows a small percentage of middle school children a pre-university education.
All those that don’t make it need to look for an apprenticeship within a few years of high school.
Great for the economy perhaps but an enormous pressure on children who are struggling with adolescence and radical hormonal changes/ imbalances at the same time.
Symptoms of the Self-Esteem Trap:
Excessive fears of being humiliated.
Pressures to be exceptional.
Unrealistic fantasies of wealth, power, celebrity, or achievement.
Feelings of superiority and/or inferiority.
Unreadiness to take on adult responsibilities in an imperfect world.
Dr Polly Young-Eisendrath’s solution?
The extreme parenting makeover. Get this free workbook for parents and educators from her website.