Saturday, March 31, 2007

I don't believe you!

I am not yet halfway through this NYT's magazine article on children's self-esteem and it is killing me!

When students transition into junior high, some who’d done well in elementary school inevitably struggle in the larger and more demanding environment. Those who equated their earlier success with their innate ability surmise they’ve been dumb all along. Their grades never recover because the likely key to their recovery—increasing effort—they view as just further proof of their failure. In interviews many confess they would “seriously consider cheating.”

Students turn to cheating because they haven’t developed a strategy for handling failure. The problem is compounded when a parent ignores a child’s failures and insists he’ll do better next time. Michigan scholar Jennifer Crocker studies this exact scenario and explains that the child may come to believe failure is something so terrible, the family can’t acknowledge its existence. A child deprived of the opportunity to discuss mistakes can’t learn from them.

Reminds me of a certain redheaded blogger I know intimately, though I don't recall my parents doling out excessive praise, so where I picked it up, I've no idea. Egads, I need to protect my kids from nefarious praisers! It may be too late--my oldest already avoids difficult tasks, like addition! Apparently, it's not nearly as easy as writing and recognizing letters.

Via Peter Suderman. at The Corner, who reminisces his childhood experiences:
I sat through hours of an all purpose feel-good/social messages course called “Me-Ology” (no kidding) in 5th grade. It came complete with a color-in workbook that you could personalize and which had no wrong answers, and was exactly as loopy and gravy-brained as you’d expect from a course called “Me-Ology.”
Free to be you and me, baby!

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Anonymous Wendy said...

Nancy Finish the article. The more important ideas are toward the end. I feel persevierance is important. Learning a musical instrument is a great way for kids to learn it. The violin especially if you can stand the "dead cat screeching" sound for a year or so.

12:03 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Thanks, Wendy! I'm going to get back to it tomorrow as soon as the kids are off to school.

Your musical instrument suggestion has my attention, though. Hmmm....

7:35 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Okay, Nancy, I plowed faithfully through all 5 pages of the article, and re-read several portions. I've concluded that commonsense and gut instinct in knowing your child better than anyone on the planet can get lost in methods. I believe there were worthwhile points (such as, vacuous praise is meaningless) but isn't that again, commonsense?

Did this article reinforce the basics of parenting that inherent commonsense and familiarity with the child beget, or did it add yet more guilt to those in the midst of finding their parental identity?

1:34 PM  
Blogger Mike (in S.A.) LaRoche said...

It's not me, it's my OCD!

8:00 AM  

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