As parents, it’s our job to make sure our children always feel good about themselves, right? Well … not exactly.
A growing notion in our culture today is that kids need to be protected from anything that would cause them to feel badly about themselves. To that end, recent years have seen a renewed push to have objective standards removed from society. For example, some say the grading system in public schools ought to be done away with. Others suggest wins and losses should be eliminated from competitive sports. Some have even argued that parents ought to rely only on positive forms of discipline – such as hugs and words of affirmation – so their children never feel disappointment.
But such ideas ignore a fundamental truth: self-disappointment is an important emotion that spurs us on to personal growth. When we feel badly about our behavior, it motivates us to improve our attitude, or to work harder, or to treat others better. On the other hand, when we subscribe to a “feel-good” philosophy, poor performance isn’t viewed any differently than excellence.
Let me be clear, a child feeling disappointed with their performance should not be confused with low self-esteem or self-hatred, which are destructive emotions. We should instill within our kids a healthy self-confidence that is based on an authentic relationship with Christ. But our children should also learn that there is such a thing as right and wrong and good and bad. Help your kids learn to find satisfaction by striving to do their very best.
For a daily dose of encouragement and perspective, check out Jim Daly’s blog, Daly Focus, at JimDalyBlog.com.