What if trying to “build a child’s self-esteem” is actually becoming detrimental to that self-esteem?

I mean, there seems to be a movement to help “build a child’s self-image” through talking to the young child (I mean early elementary or before).  Cutting deals with them and attempting to manipulate them in subtle ways in order to get them to do what the adult needs/wants them to do.

It seems that this is the preferred method because it “empowers” the child which then gives them confidence. What if this confidence is a weak confidence though; instead of creating a deep-set confidence which holds through any issue, what if confidence based on this empowerment is very shallow and not resilient?

Sure, giving a child a choice, if only of limited options delimited by the adult can empower the child; make them feel like they have control over parts of the world but, that feeling of control is fake and, I think, a root cause in people lacking resiliency.

Think about it, resiliency comes from many factors.  Some of those are: feeling in control, being able to let go of the things you cannot control and your emotional outlook towards events in life.

Giving a child options, instead of simply a “no, because an authority figure said no,” limits which factors grow in a child.  The child ends up always feeling good because they at least always have the semblance and feeling that they are in control.  What happens once that facade fails though?  Since they are less used to being in a situation out of their control, there is potential for all of their self-confidence to crumble.

Instead, the benefits of simply telling a child “no” and not giving them options teaches them that they are a) not always in control and not always going to be in control and then b) how to emotionally deal with that in a way that makes sense and teaches them to remove their personal feelings from the exact situation so that they can have a healthier emotional outlook on the situation.

So, what if resilient individuals come from slightly sterner upbringing?


Happiest People

One thing that comes up a lot is happiness, yet, when discussing the idea of happy people in academics I think there is a group that is forgotten often: construction workers.

Construction workers, although not perfect, could actually make a solid claim for some of the happier people in society.  As long as happiness for an individual means having a sense of community, being active and creating.  Construction workers have all three of these, or at least can.

Honestly, the active part I feel like that is obvious enough, they actually walk and do not look at a computer all day.  Creating is pretty easy too, take a group of workers who are tasked with building a house.  They start with nothing and each day they get to visibly see their progress on the house until it is finished.  Plus, in their creation they have a craft that they can take pride in.  A carpenter is a carpenter, they specialize in a specific craft that (at least for union members) they have to go to school for and practice and apprentice in before they can become just a plain worker.  This craft takes specific skill sets and a certain amount of creativity to deal with unforeseen problems on the job too.  On top of this they get to do this with others, some of whom they can be quite close to.

Community, one of the biggest buzz words that seems to be arising.  Presumably, we do not always feel like part of a community in our society anymore.  Something which, construction workers may not, or at least I think, they do not have a problem with, or at least not as much of a problem.  It’s amazing how close you get when you have to work with a person every day for weeks or months on end, create something together and have to be careful of each other’s safety.

That last comment opens up a different discussion, but next time looking at construction, think about it, that worker may be happier than you are in your office job.