We all want kids to feel good about themselves, and far too many kids get no praise at all from adults. But are the superlatives necessary? More to the point, does lavish praise really boost kids' self-esteem and help them do well in school -- and in life?
As National Work and Family Month comes to a close, take some time to think about what works for you and really practice balance. Spend time with your kids, encourage their development, set goals, and, most importantly, lead by example.
Far from a grand us-versus-them conspiracy, the scenario you will find without fail in every institution will be the same: Each administrator arguing vociferously and tenaciously for his or her faculty, staff, and programs.
For several days this month, one of the most emailed articles in the New York Times was "Why Can Some Kids Handle Pressure While Others Fall Apart?" The article purports to explain why some children fold under the pressure of taking tests.
Few of us would claim to behave better when we are stressed or contend that our relationships, or the way we handle our responsibilities, improve when we feel pressured. So imagine how stress can feel to your middle schooler or teenager, who has far less experience to help him or her cope.
Perhaps we reap what we sow. If we assume that children are a "problem" to be solved (to be controlled or crammed full of knowledge or taught how to behave), are we creating a self-fulfilling prophecy?
There are many things American schools need. More early academic emphasis is not one of them. In fact, early academic emphasis is one of the root causes of the intractable achievement "problems" in public schools.