Too Much Self-Esteem Is Bad for Teens

Janelle Harris

Teen confidenceI am a firm believer that every parent should infuse their kid with a healthy dose of self-esteem. Pump them up and cheer them on in their interests and goals, even if you don’t quite understand them. So long as what they’re doing is positive. Teach your younguns to think highly of themselves and they’ll expect other people to treat them like they’re valuable, too.

But dang, we might’ve gone a little bit overboard with this generation coming up. Smug bunch of little swaggerholics, ain’t they?

I’ve said it before, but now I have proof that it’s not just me who thinks this round of teenagers are a lot more kiss-the-ring than any other group before. A study postulates that young adults and teens — nicknamed “Generation Me” — are more self-centered, even narcissistic. Like, duh. It’s a good thing that our kids are feeling confident, but I guess we can stop pouring on the praise right about now. 

The research, published online in the British journal Self and Identity, says that this gang is going into college with their noses turned up and their interests focused inward. This contemporary model of teen and young adult actually feels superior compared to their parents and grandparents when they were that age. Sixty percent of freshmen rank their intelligence “above average,” a big jump from the 39 percent polled way back in 1966.

With all of the bells and whistles of technology, greater opportunities at their disposal, and more advanced information systems, it would sad if our kids weren’t smarter, more accomplished, even bolder. So yay for that part. But the frowns come in when I think about how overconfidence can set them up for some hard and fast failures. They ain’t too cute to get knocked down a peg or two like everybody else. In fact, they probably need to, just to have the experience under their belt.

I personally feel like teens and young adults think they should just be handed stuff. Their sense of entitlement is, like, off the meter. Even Tween Girl, who gets the connection between working and making money but doesn’t really embrace the concept of investing effort to yield a result. To her, it’s more of an ends to a means to work and be paid, but I can’t seem to get her to grasp and apply the basic principle when it comes to practicing in order to get better at something. I guess she thinks it should just happen because she’s Skylar.

I don’t know what that child is thinking but I know she and her whole little highfalutin generation are in for a karate chop of reality. They don’t need to reinvent the wheel since the groundwork has been laid for them, but they darn sure haven’t done anything to improve the way the doggone wheel works yet to justify why their arrogance is already at an all-time high. And when they do start making some strides, watch the heck out.

I love me some young people — I see the sparkly-eyed potential of my own Tween Princess and other kids in the youth group I volunteer with at church. But they need to stop feeling themselves as hard as they do and start checking off accomplishments in a good and humble way. Entitlement be gone, little ones. You got to work for your greatness like e’rybody else.

Is your kid more confident than you were at their age?

Image via PinkStock Photos!/Flickr

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