Which victory is sweeter? The one in which there was never any doubt or the one that was in doubt until the final second?
My guess is that in both instances the vast majority of us would select the second option. Why? Because we don’t truly appreciate the fantastic moments of life if we have not known the crummy ones. Life is a series of ups and downs, positives and negatives.
Yet one of the most popular philosophies in child rearing of the past several years is the insistence on ensuring that every child has positive self-esteem. And how is this accomplished? We “award” trophies to every child who participates. We don’t keep score in athletic events so the “losing” side won’t feel bad. We tell our children that their smallest, most insignificant, accomplishment is awesome.
We over load them with protective gear when they ride a bike or participate in other potentially injurious activities. And if there is trouble at school, many threaten the school – because to accept that our child may have misbehaved could harm their self-esteem. One of my favorites is the recent decision by many schools not to use red when correcting papers because red offends.
And parents assure themselves that this is the way to make certain that their children will feel good about themselves.
I wonder how prior generations ever survived?
If your child is rarely reprimanded, how will he or she know where the boundaries are? Children who are led to believe that everything they do is great are not ones that I want to sit next to on an airplane!
At the other end of the praise spectrum – when your child truly does something spectacular, how will he know? Praise, constantly given, becomes little more than words. Don’t you want your child’s face to light up when you praise them for doing something truly fantastic? Then praise cannot be something that is given regularly or it loses its meaning.
As parents, we want to protect our children. Shield them from pain. Assure them that their every action is okay. And when they grow up and discover what the real world is like, are they going to be equipped to handle it?
Childhood is the training ground for adulthood. Please don’t send your children into the fray unprepared to handle disappointment or adversity.