Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.
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Comment Posted: 23/02/2008 15:08
|There is a lot of truth in the comments from teachers but it is not new, it's just got worse. And that despite the fact that evidence, including much presented in "Creating Confidence," shows that telling children that they are always right does not produce good adults. In fact, in many cases it produces downright bad adults.
I have worked with young people, mostly in schools, for more than thirty years and have seen the results of spoiling children too many times for comfort. We cannot generalise from the particular but one thirty-year-old I know is a case in point. His parents were constantly at his school complaining that their son was being picked on by teachers and bullied by other pupils. The simple fact is that this young lad had been spoiled from birth and was already displaying signs that because he had always been told that he was right he had no concept of rejection and had no self-control.
The result is that now in his early thirties and the son of professional parents he has never held down a job, has cost his father a fortune supporting him in a business which is failing because he will not put in the necessary effort and has had at least two spells as a guest of Her Majesty in Greenock Prison. At an early age people have to learn that at times life can be hard and painful and that only by accepting that and learning to cope with it will future happiness come.
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Comment Posted: 06/03/2008 12:21
|This is a brilliant thread with excellent comments. I am fascinated by this stuff because I know what it's like to challenge adversity. It's a life skill isn't it?
This reminds me of a wee story set in a a similar 'middle class' area with similar type parents. I was watching my son playing football and his team was loosing. It is important to note that they were losing because the other team had a) scored more goals than them (my son was the goalie) and b) they were playing poorly. They have a few good individual players who seem to have difficulty playing as a team because they all seem to want the glory of being the 'top scorer' or the 'best player' regardless of the consequences for the team as a whole. Well you can imagine what they looked like, shoulders down heads down, tempers up. One kid even got sent off (10yr old!!).Their behaviour was shocking. They ended up loosing something like 4 or 5 nil at the hands of a team they had won over previously. It was embarrassing to watch and in such a 'respectable' are too.
At the end of the game I was amazed to hear that several spectating parents and especially the football coach were trying to reassure them by saying things like, 'well done', 'good effort you played well there'. It was all a load of lies. And what's more the kids knew it. You could see it in their body language and facial expressions.
I had previously read The Optimistic Child by Martin Seligman and could see what he meant by the damage being done by the 'self esteem movement' and the false expectation it creates. It seems we now have the 'self esteem classes' in Scotland. So I decided to try a wee social experiment and apply Seligman's learning.
I waited until the coach had finished and in his own way he was trying to motivate them but seemed to be having the opposite effect, by using praise instead of honesty. The team knew me because I am a regular supporter and helper. Once the coach was finished I said, "Well boys that was the worst display of teamwork, discipline and football I have ever seen you play". They all stopped and looked at me surprised. I had their attention and unfortunately that of the coach and other parents too. I then said " I know you can play better than that and I think you know that you can too. It's important to be honest with your self when you think about how you can learn from this game so you can play better next time".
I thought I had over stepped the mark by sticking my neck out. I thought there was going to be a riot. The coach then, obviously feeling the need to retaliate, said that he didn't think what I said was helpful. I then had an interesting discussion with him and recommended Seligmans book as a communication aid to his coaching style. His attitude was shocking. One of fixed belief that you are either 'naturally' talented or not. Even the parents had the same defeatist view. Some of them still haven't spoken to me! The true cost of honesty....no loss.
This I believe is the real challenge for us as parents and social citizens. To challenge everyday and in every way the notion that class, particularly in Scotland, provides privilege and overconfidence that gives assumed, and even divine, 'natural' rights! How money then comes into this equation is amazing, it becomes more than a measure of success, it's like a belief to continue to own success.
In these cases I think overconfidence through wealth creates just as many problems as poverty and lack of confidence.
So the CfC has a lot of work to do... I for one as a parent completely supports it's quest.
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