U.S. Teens Brimming With Self-Esteem

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Thursday, November 13, 2008

U.S. Teens Brimming With Self-Esteem

An interesting study here on how the pendulum of teen self-esteem may have swung too far, producing an overconfidence that is out of sync with the reality of real world challenges.

I won't argue with the findings of the study, but don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. While the findings might ring true in the broad culture, to ignore the fact that many teens have significant struggles with self-esteem, and that these struggles often lead to destructive behaviors that have negative consequences into adulthood, would be a huge mistake.

Wise parents will view their kids individually and uniquely and work to instill a healthy, balanced sense of self-esteem in them.

Today's American high school students are far likelier than those in the 1970s to believe they'll make outstanding spouses, parents and workers, new research shows.

They're also much more likely to claim they are "A" students with high IQs -- even though other research shows that today's students do less homework than their counterparts did in the 1970s.

The findings, published in the November issue of Psychological Science, support the idea that the "self-esteem" movement popular among today's parents and teachers may have gone too far, the study's co-author said.

"What this shows is that confidence has crossed over into overconfidence," said Jean Twenge, an associate professor of psychology at San Diego State University.

She believes that decades of relentless, uncritical boosterism by parents and school systems may be producing a generation of kids with expectations that are out of sync with the challenges of the real world.

"High school students' responses have crossed over into a really unrealistic realm, with three-fourths of them expecting performance that's effectively in the top 20 percent," Twenge said.

Compared to their counterparts from the '70s, today's youth tended to rate themselves as more intelligent and were more likely to say they were "completely satisfied" with themselves.

Source: Washington Post

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