Trophy Kids and the Cycle of Artificial Self-Esteem
In a world that seems to be dividing itself more and more distinctly each day, one wonders what role “over-praise” has in this phenomenon, and if there really is such a thing? We thank Joanne Blackerby a little for this guest post. We believe that there are some truths worth hearing today. There is a […]

In a world that seems to be dividing itself more and more distinctly each day, one wonders what role “over-praise” has in this phenomenon, and if there really is such a thing?

We thank Joanne Blackerby a little for this guest post. We believe that there are some truths worth hearing today.

There is a commonality among the various approaches, styles and philosophies of parenting and child rearing - no matter what style or philosophy of parenting practiced or adopted, it is clear that we all want what there is. better for our children. We want them to have a fulfilling and fulfilling life and to be confident in themselves. We want them to be recognized as the unique and special individuals we know they are. But how far are we willing to go to protect our children's sense of self and self-esteem? Are we prepared to risk dishonesty or excessive praise?

A recent TV commercial caught my eye advertising disposable toilet training pull-on underwear. The ad portrayed a common family vignette: celebrating a toddler's success at going potty. The ad caught my eye not because it reminded me of potty training my own kids, but because of the outrageous celebration of the child's potty experience. When the child succeeds in their first flush, a lavish mechanical toy automaton kicks in: it's like a Disney ride with flying balls, planes and marble mazes, which ends up exploding in the living room with confetti fireworks and "congratulations!" banners. At first glance, I was plunged into brief despair at the thought of my own parental inadequacy. I never celebrated my now adult children's early successes in the pot in this way.

With my oldest packing for college, my second prep for high school, and my youngest entering fourth grade, I found myself, albeit briefly, in dismay and wondering if my lack of an elaborate potty celebration over the years meant that I condemned them to a life of low self-esteem.

Potty training is a natural step in a child's self-efficacy and independence, and toilet mastery is a natural progression of growth and development. But are we as parents playing with our children's ego in over-celebration of the more mundane aspects of growing up? Plus, what happens when the child has an almost inevitable potty accident? So what? Do we give us a gold star or a trophy for trying go potty? Are we mentioning the accident or are we claiming that it never happened? Is there a prize or at least a medal or trophy for the potty effort?

The pot metaphor may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the question remains: How do we teach our children to manage life without expecting a big band parade to flush the toilet? If excessive praise begins in potty training, when does it end?

There was a time when children learned their place in the world by navigating the extrinsic hierarchies of playground rules and social peer groups. There was a time when all kids weren't on every team no matter how they tried, and there was a time when kids failed a school project or mission even if they tried. There was a time when everything was not "fair" (and fairness was really irrelevant, because life is not fair). That's the whole point of hard work and the ultimate need for a strong character. Things might not have been fair, but they were true, and setbacks have prepared us all for the realities of life.

Our kids don't try anymore, try and try again. The old adage has long been silent. The standardization of education, sport and even play has made it difficult to know what a real and consistent achievement is. Parents revolve around their children to ensure their child's success everywhere: in the classroom, on the field and on the playground. We have created a direct correlation between self-esteem and success when there is none.

We believe this:

  • Success = high self-esteem
  • High self-esteem = success

But what if the success is artificial? So, wouldn't it make sense for this to result in artificial self-esteem? A disproportionate sense of entitlement and self-belief?

Consider the child on the playground who is just not good at the sport being played. He is not interested in sports, does not practice the required skills. The team suffers from their lack of competence and the coaches are frustrated as they have to give the child time on the pitch. The kid is oblivious to his lack of skills and work ethic because his community is focused on boosting his self-esteem, constantly boosting his ego, giving high fives all around. The sport is not his sport, but rather than being honest with him, his community veils the reality of his talent. In doing so, the children continue to play, even badly, remain the season and at the end receive the same trophy as all the children on the team, including those who were top players. The same scene plays out in other areas, in dance studios, on recital stages and in classrooms. If you never know you're not good at something, how can you know what an improvement is?

Why are we so afraid of letting our children fail? We are facing a generation of children who feel good about themselves for no reason. We are raising kids who don't believe the rules apply to them because we gave up the rules. We want to level all playing fields and the results are lost opportunities for children to discover how to develop their own talents, skills and character.

We reinforce the belief that success is not measured by skill development, effort, hard work and competitive success, but increasingly by "everyone deserves praise regardless of effort, skill. or work ethic. ” Consider the impact on the child who works really hard and fails. Failure is a powerful motivator, but it must be practiced.

When parents act in such a way that their children are praised no matter what, they put their child in a "fixed state of mind." Research has shown that a fixed mindset can cripple children into adulthood. A child who has the feeling of never questioning himself for fear of failure will not be able to be independent as a young adult. Whenever a challenge confronts them, they find themselves completely paralyzed and usually will turn to mom or dad for help.

On the other hand, overestimating your child can make them feel like they will never live up to your expectations. They fear that when they "make" a mistake, the lack of praise will be considerable. This can cause extreme anxiety in children who feel like they can never make a mistake or cannot perform at the level their parents want them to.

Sadly, our own fear of parental failure feeds a generation of Trophy Kids: children who wait for a trophy or recognition to do what all children are supposed to do: grow up. Attempts to make our children feel good about themselves results in a generation of self-centered children who quickly lose the ability to see the value of anyone or anything beyond themselves. The child's "I'm special just because" mentality can create a conceited and narcissistic young adult.

Related: IIs it possible to exaggerate our children?

Research has shown that overestimating your child or giving him "something" in recognition of a seemingly small and painstaking task can be harmful to your child's psyche. A 2015 study by researchers at Stanford University found that overestimating your child may actually lead to them becoming narcissistic.

The study looked at two competing theories of narcissism - one is that narcissism is a personality disorder and the other is that narcissism can be created by parents who constantly tell their child, or act in a way that says to their child, that they are special and exceptional. in relation to their peers and those around them.

There is a parenting term for parents who are constantly praising or removing barriers for their children - lawn mower parenting. Lawn mower parenting basically means that parents will give their child extreme praise in the form of verbal praise or gifts and rewards for their daily behavior. They will also introduce this behavior to their child by removing any obstacles that make life more difficult. For example, they can talk to a teacher about how they “fail” their child when the child hasn't studied for a test and gets a bad grade. These are the parents you hear about calling their children's college professors or showing up for interviews with their children. They do not allow their child to take care of any problem on their own, which paralyzes them and makes them feel they deserve special treatment as they get older.

If we really want the best for our children, we have to be prepared to admit that they are not the best in everything. Life is not fair. We must allow them all of life's bumps, bruises and injuries so that they have the honest and genuine opportunity to overcome life's challenges. Ultimately, a child's true sense of himself will come through the truth and the consequences of his efforts, work and commitment to the community around him.

Related: The craze for endless praise

In fact, research has found that children who independently overcome a fear or challenge are happier with themselves than their counterparts. In a study by a famous analyst of children's behavior Carol S. Dweck Ph.D., from the Stanford University School of Education, found that children who were praised with words like "You've worked so hard on this!" against "Good job!" enjoyed solving the given set of puzzles more than the children who were simply praised with general praise phrases. This speaks to the idea that when parents praise their children, which is good practice as a parent, they should praise the process, not the person.

A balanced child is one who learns that his success and his worth are not defined only by well he is, but also how he lives goodness.

Joanne blackerby (www.joanneblackerby.com) is an ACE (American Council of Exercise) Certified Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist, and the author of Effects of training: reflections on the art of personality training. She lives in Austin with her husband and three children.

Image: Robert Kneschke


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You may not remember the last time you saw your feet, but trust us, right now you look amazing, and it’s time to show the world !

Your changing body shape gives you free reign to try out a whole range of genres that you would never have considered BP ( before pregnancy ). Of course, it’s important to balance feeling comfortable with looking totally awesome, but by getting the basics right you’ll be rocking your own pregnancy style before you know it.

In recent years many more retailers have started stocking maternity ranges, so you can still site your favourite brands such as H

The great thing about your bump is that you don’t have to spend a fortune, a few key pieces will provide the foundation of your pregnancy look, and you can then build it up from there.

A comfortable pair of maternity pantalons - there are some great ones on the market right now, choose from styles that go under your bump, or ones that go over it – these may make you feel like Simon Cowell, but you’ll be super comfortable, and no one else will know ! Darker coloured jeans are great for both daytime, and for evenings out.

Maternity vest tops – these are worth grabbing in a few colours as you’re sure to wear them again and again throughout your pregnancy. As they keep your bump covered, they’re perfect for layering with favourite non-maternity items such as blazers and open shirts.

Put together an effortless weekend look by combining your maternity jeans with a black vest top, and then accessorise, accessorise, accessorise ! Add pops of colour with accessories such as circle scarves and chunky necklaces to pull your look together. Pair this with a blazer and pumps if you fancy looking a bit smarter, or stay casual with an open shirt over the top and your favourite trainers.

If you’ve always run scared of stripes, now’s the time to embrace them, they’ll look amazing on your bump. This is the time to show off your bump, and a tight, striped top or dress will do just that.

So that’s your causal wardrobe sorted, but how about work ? If you’re starting to panic on a Monday morning as you try on every item in your wardrobe to find something to wear that not only fits, but is also suitable for work, we can help.

Pencil skirts are your new BFF, well at least for pregnancy anyway. These beauties will keep you covered up, flatter your bump, and you’ll look amazing wearing it. Simplify getting ready for work even more by opting for a pencil dress, that way you don’t even need to worry about matching it with a top – sorted !

Wearing wrap dresses, and jumper dresses is also a great way to allie looking smart at work, but staying comfortable.

Planning a night out, but have no clue what to wear ? If in doubt, keep it simple. In the photo above Giovanna Fletcher is off to meet Prince Charles, and styles amazing in a black dress and black pumps. As stunning as her outfit is we’re pretty sure it must be very comfortable too, and if that’s good enough to wear to meet royalty, it’s definitely acceptable to wear on a night out with our friends.

Of course, one of the most important parts of your pregnancy wardrobe is an item that won’t be on display, that’s right it’s the humble maternity bra. The importance of this essential bit of coffret is not to be underestimated, especially as it’s not just your bump that will be growing bigger !

A well fitted, comfortable maternity bra will keep you supported, without digging into you. During pregnancy underwired bras are not recommended, so having the right support is even more important. Don’t forget to get measured regularly, as your bra size is likely to increase a few times during your pregnancy. Whatever your maternity style, the main thing to consider is how you feel in what you’re wearing, if it makes you feel good, and it’s comfortable then go for it.

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