Discipline

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?

Advertisements

Resilience

Floating around in business, self-help, etc. seems to be this idea of gaining resilience; gaining the ability to “bounce back” from set-backs and keep going.  I have not read many of those books, yet.   But, what if our current perceived lack of resilience comes from a lack of firmness?

I mean, I feel like, growing up (and in general), I learned to “go with the flow,” and accept things in life as they came.  As one book I recently finished phrased it, “…being generally groovy…” School never really helped me search for my ideals, we never even spoke of ideals that I can think of.  There was never time spent, going inwards and finding depth, figuring out what we consider most important as individuals. Now people are apparently feeling somewhat, out-of-control or at a loss and lack this resilience that is being looked at.  I think that these two things are connected.

I would argue that, for something to bounce back, there has to be a certain level of firmness in that same thing; a solid core if you will. That core is actually the thing that creates resiliency.

I always imagine a blade of grass or bamboo when I think of the word “resiliency.” The wind blows and the plant bends or sways but, as soon as the wind stops, the plant goes right back upright to it’s original (or close to it) position. That’s my mental image of resiliency.  Following that image, one part that the grass or bamboo has is a core, an internal structure which holds together even while being bent over.

That internal structure; that is the thing missing from people I think. So, what if instead of resiliency, we looked at a core? We, as a society, are generally too groovy I think, not to mention too schizophrenic due to our focus on television to have that discussion usually. Yes, I can even take a distrust of technology and make it old.

Back to being groovy, you know one thing I was never directly asked through grade school, high school and University: what do I value? I don’t remember that being on any college essay nor scholarship application. We certainly did not have a class on it at any point (maybe kinda-sorta with philosophy but not directly).

Even on a more basic level, some of the words teachers, parents, mentors, etc used were never clearly defined: “be kind,” “be nice,” “be fair,” etc. Those are non-resilient words, they are groovy ones and sway everywhere with the breeze yet have no core to retreat to.

(Yes, I’m enjoying a chance to constantly use the word groovy) 

I have generally been convinced of the power of language to shape thoughts and actions, following this line, weak (non-resilient) words would lead to weak actions and weak individuals since their internal cores are based on words which do not actually have substance, leading to squishy, non-resilient, cores.

As such, using words that have a clearer definition and helping students define those words and learn hard, real examples of those words would be the first step in creating more resilient people.  Defining those words and then using those words to help students define their values, I think, would be the way to create resilient citizens.  What if education spent some time on that sort of work?  The only down side, that I see, would be a distinct down-tick in grooviness.  I would consider that a fair trade for citizens able to handle uncomfortable situations though.