Do Teens Have Too Much Self-Esteem?

Do Teens Have Too Much Self-Esteem?

Do today’s teens have too much self-esteem? Usually we think of self-esteem in terms of being thin amidst an epidemic of obesity…but what about in the classroom? According to The Chicago Tribune, new research suggests that teens are praised too much for doing mediocre work, and they’re not prepared for criticism.

Today’s young people have been praised so much that criticism and failure are shocking. Others develop a keen sense of privilege, believing they’ll succeed with ease, regardless of their actual talents, accomplishments or willingness to work. “There has been a pretty big shift in expectations. Adjusting to reality is going to be different,” said Jean Twenge, a San Diego State University psychology professor whose research has found soaring teen self-esteem.

Not all researchers agree with Twenge; others have found no significant changes in self-esteem from previous generations — but paired with another study that found today’s college students have less empathy than ever before, I think her conclusion is pretty convincing.

Some parents acknowledge that they may have passed down too much self-esteem to their kids. “It’s this entitlement that is driving many of us crazy. It’s like, where did we go wrong?” said Rita Berger, a West Chicago mother of a teenage son and daughter. “We’re kind of the root problem. In our attempt to give (this generation) everything, they have not learned to work or appreciate things.”

Could it also be that single or divorced parents feel guilty and aren’t tough enough on their kids? And that grade inflation gives students marks they don’t really deserve? It all adds up to kids not being ready to face reality – but that may not be such a terrible thing. “How long can you hold on to unrealistic self-esteem?” asked John Reynolds, a sociologist at Florida State University. “It wouldn’t last very far into your 20s. The sociological evidence says there are more important things to worry about.”

Photo: ConsumerReports