Parents today have a problem that hasn’t been an issue before: Kids like themselves… too much. When I grew up there were always a few braggers and bullies, but a lot of this was still the result of kids and teens trying to feel better about themselves. Trying to feel better about ourselves was the normal thing to do because that’s also what our parents were doing. We were all just trying to like and feel good about ourselves. Today, however, we are seeing a large number of young people in a very different mindset. Consider the following graph idea:
Liking ourselves too much: 10 points
Liking ourselves enough (healthy self esteem): 0 points
Liking ourselves too little (low self esteem): -10 points
Notice that there isn’t even a proper term for ‘liking ourselves too much’ because self esteem is usually something people struggle to have… or at least that used to be the case. If this were a graph, we would all land somewhere on this scale of 10 to -10. Most, if not all, people I grew up and worked with would have been in the negatives and working at moving up (or at least working at being okay with where they’re at). With the millennial generation and younger, however, a lot of them are really high because we’ve over coddled them. Whether it’s because everyone gets a trophy, kids not being allowed to fail, or constantly being told they can do anything they want, there is a large number of entitled young people who don’t know how to struggle or sacrifice. I remember years ago when I was at teachers college being told not to use red ink because that was “too mean”. Too mean? It’s red ink. This follows the same issue where parents are afraid to discipline. More and more try to “explain” themselves to children who don’t have the ability to reason yet. By ‘explaining’ to kids, kids have become really good at making excuses for what they do wrong and terrible at taking responsibility. By ‘explaining’ to kids, kids have become really good at talking back to adults and terrible at showing respect. There’s no fear. Why? We’re afraid of hurting their self esteem, but we have a generation of young people who need to have their self esteem hurt. We’re making them soft.
So what does this mean? We need to start changing the way we teach and parent because otherwise we are on a very dangerous course of creating a population of very selfish, prideful people who lack compassion and love. For me, as a therapist I need to adjust my thinking because I will soon no longer be trying to help people move up to healthy self esteem, but lower from their entitled pedestal.
If you’re wondering where you are on this graph of liking ourselves too much or too little here are some examples of what these look like:
Liking ourselves too much: No fear of authority, no sense of rebellion but rather apathy or ‘I’m better than you’, talking back, excuses, judgment of others, self glorification, looking down on others, lack compassion, lack care, lack perseverance, obsessed with themselves, intense social media presence, rude, whining about nothing, boredom with others, laziness, avoidance of responsibility, lying, close minded, lack of guilt, unfamiliar to certain emotions, no fear of addictive or dangerous behaviors, pass off responsibility and blame, anxiety
Liking ourselves enough: Loving others, open minded, self aware and self accepting of both strengths and weaknesses, other aware and other accepting, healthy lifestyle, forgiving, compassionate, healthy guilt, sadness, and anger, stand up to bullying, accept compliments and offers them in healthy amount
Liking ourselves too little: Mean to ourselves and others, cower or bully, depression, anxiety, overly generous or selfish, judgement and condemnation of both self and others, bragger or hider, afraid or desperate for compliments, addictions, and many of the similar traits as ‘liking ourselves too much, but for different reasons
Rev Chad David, www.ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people