My son at a cross country meet My son at a cross-country meet

In our society we breed the mentality of entitlement. We don't do it because we want to produce entitled children or adults. No one likes a person with a sense of entitlement. We do it because we don't want anyone to develop a low self-esteem. So, we give all the children trophies at the end of the season, whether they won or lost. We don't use the scoreboard for little kid's sports games, to encourage learning the game without feeling like a loser. As teachers we don't use red ink to correct a paper because it may scar a young mind, knowing they have made errors in their work. We cannot have favorites or any partiality to those who go above and beyond to do their best because everyone is loved. We should treat everyone the same, lift every child at all times, and never make them think twice about what they should correct.

So, do all of these actions build a healthy self-esteem? My answer is no! It builds a good self-esteem, however, it does not build a realistic self-image. If we are never told what we have done wrong then how can we work to improve it? If we don't know the score of the game how do we know if we are winning or losing? How can we understand competition? If everyone likes us is there a need to grow, change, and mature in life? If we get a trophy for everything, is it special?

I totally understand building self-esteem. Loving your child without condition and praising them when they have done good, and loving them for who they uniquely are. However, I also believe in correcting, disciplining, and allowing my children to grow through disappointment, rejection, loses, and self-reflection. Every person needs to be given the opportunity to grow. Why would we try to grow if everything is just perfect the way it is?

If I were never rejected by publishers, would I become complacent as a writer? The rejection drives my passion, and fuels me to work more diligently. If I never lost a game, would I understand how to cope with disappointment, or learn how to get back up and try again? If the red marks were never written on my most prized essays, would I have ever learned how to write better? If I was given a trophy every time I played, would I have kept the only one I ever really earned?

Love your children and students enough to let them experience, loss, failure, rejection, and correction. Without these experiences they will become self-entitled adults who do not know how to grow, preserve, or appreciate every victory. As a parent and a teacher it is our role to help shape children into good, caring, strong, innovative, steadfast, and confident adults. The truth, it can be presented gently, will indeed set one free. Are we willing to tell the truth or are we just going to give them all trophies?

Copyright 2015 Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp
Photo copyright 2015 Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp. All rights reserved.