One hears so much about childhood depression these days in addition to the adult kind, one wonders what’s causing it all. Here’s what appears to be one factor: the self-esteem movement.
Though I poke at LiveScience.com in the below post, the website is definitely worth reading. One of its latest reports is that undeserved compliments may harm, not help, kids’ self esteem.
“Students who rated their own performance as much higher than it actually was were significantly more likely to feel depressed than those who had rated their performance more accurately,” they write. They cite researchers who conclude that “These findings challenge the popular notion that self-enhancement and providing positive performance feedback to low performers is beneficial to emotional health.”
The article states that under the influence of the self-esteem movement, ” teachers are often pressured to provide unfounded positive performance feedback to their students.” So it seems a little more tough love could help.
It notes, however, that self-effacement may be just as bad. “The studies showed that subjects who rated their performance as much lower than it actually was also showed higher levels of depression.”
So it looks like one has to find the right balance between positive and negative feedback. Hey, how about just telling kids the truth, free of either sugar-coating or rubbing salt into their wounds.