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Sunday, April 9, 2017


This cranky re-run is from April 2013

Self-esteem is very important.  Children should be raised feeling good about themselves.  In order to assure self-esteem in our children we have eliminated failure.  Disappointment detracts from one’s self-esteem.  Failure leads to anxiety, lethargy, and drugs. 

Today’s children are fortunate in that we have learned the importance of instant gratification and we seek to eliminate failure and disappointment. 

When I was a wee lad my Dad used to take me bowling.  In those days they had these things called gutters.  If you threw the ball poorly it would slide into the gutter and you would hit zero pins.  My father never threw a “gutter ball.”  I seldom threw anything else.  I think the result was it gave me very low self-esteem.

On the few occasions where I did avoid the gutter and knocked down some pins it was very exciting!

I took my youngest son bowling years ago and they have gotten got rid of gutters.  Now they raise “bumpers” out of the gutters for little children and errant throws bounce off the bumpers and the ball always knocks over some pins.  Children who bowl today don’t even try to throw the ball down the lane; they just wail away at the bumpers and hope for the best.  It seems like great fun, except when they only knock down a few pins they mope and whine a lot.

I don’t remember moping and whining.

When I was the same wee lad, my Dad put up a basketball hoop on our driveway.  It was regulation height and we used a regulation sized ball.  Of course my friends and I couldn’t palm the basketball like the pros and we had to heave it with all we had to reach the basket.  We seldom actually put the ball in the basket.  I think my self-esteem suffered as a result.

When we did make a basket it was great fun.

I notice kids playing basketball today use a small ball that they can hold with one hand.  The basket is lowered to where even the chubby kids can reach up and slam the ball into the hoop.  They dunk the ball just like the pros.  They hardly ever heave the ball to the basket, they prefer to dunk it.  They never miss.  Their self-esteem must be very high.

It seems the kids do not play basketball for very long…I guess they get bored with success.

Things are so much better for children today.  Training wheels keep them from falling off their bikes, course it seems to take forever before the training wheels come off.  No one loses at sports because they don’t keep score.  Keeping score just means someone loses.  It is apparently more important for no one to lose than it is for anyone to win.  If you show up you get a trophy…gee I’m so proud!  Just look at that self-esteem.  Everyone is on the honor roll.  Instead of high grades for high achievement, we have lower expectations and reward any achievement.  Self-esteem is just oozing out of today’s children.

Hey, Billy ate a carrot, Jane dunked a basketball, Larry got a trophy, Sally can add, LaMarr hit a ball off a tee, Lucy played a kazoo, and Tommy drew a tree!

Atta boy, atta girl…High Five!  


  1. I think after a certain age in a child's development they need to not be awarded just because they showed up but because of their personal efforts in achieving what they are meant to achieve for that particular sport, assignment, etc. A young toddler of say 13 months needs a boost of self esteem since everything is a learning experience for them so when they accomplish something new to them or different to them, while we might take it for granted, they "deserve" a clap of the hands, a high 5, some type of visible achievement (the topic of my next blog post). But after a certain age they (like us) need to earn that achievement is not necessarily to be handed to us in a participation trophy or no one gets graded type of thing, etc. Healthily we obtain self esteem when we go out and do something to earn it (in my somewhat humble?? opinion)


  2. Ooooh. So that's why we have Snowflakes now.

  3. I hate all this "lowered expectations" crap. There's no incentive for kids to strive and do their best anymore, everyone gets rewarded just for showing up. The entire world is dumbing down just so a few kids don't get their feelings hurt. And nobody gets to learn what they are good at and what they suck at.

  4. Learning new skills and accomplishing things is so much more important, and for some reason, parents and educators are not figuring this out fast enough to head off disaster for the next generations.

  5. I've always told my kids that my biggest problem as an adult has been that I didn't fail enough when I was a kid. Like a lot of 'gifted' kids, I didn't like things that didn't come easy. It took a lot of growing up to realize that failure is how you learn to get better. . .

    One of my favorite books is 'To Engineer is Human: the Role of Failure in Engineering Design' (if you can find a copy, I highly recommend it). How'd you like to be the guy who designs the bridge that collapses and lives on in memory as How Not To Do It? And yet, knowledge of that failure (which nobody anticipated, and if it wasn't that bridge, it would've been a different one) is crucial to how we design bridges today. . .

  6. I wonder if anyone has really learned their mistake of making entitled children?

  7. I generally agree with you - for people like us who had parental support - however, what I hate seeing are kids who find themselves outclassed in every single category at early elementary level. They have no choice but to accept themselves as failures - and, to me, that's the biggest injustice of them all. I saw too many at the high school level I taught. By that time, if you try to find something to compliment, they regard you with distrust..."what does she want from me?"
    Just another viewpoint here!

  8. If you never know defeat and disappointment how can you enjoy the true 'high' of real success? I am so tired of hearing parents chanting 'great job joey or jenny...great job...because they chewed a cheerio. Sheesh.

  9. If you don't ever lose, how can you really appreciate winning? That bowling change is new to me. Didn't know they changed the game to pinball.

    1. If you don't ever lose, how can you really appreciate winning? GREAT QUESTION!!

  10. I like the earning part of things. You need to know how to win, and what that feels like. You need to know how to lose and what that feels like.

    Have a fabulous day, Joe. ☺

  11. I agree. Life is not one big trophy winning WIN! WE may lose more than a few times before we learn where our strengths and interest are, then we can build from that. Life is just a learning process.

    And for the record, those gutter bumper things don't work. Even with them I bowled a 190. My self-esteem was shattered. ;)

  12. You make some good points. I've also read that most children are raised these days by women and women don't raise sons to take physical risks like fathers do.

  13. And another thing...when my parents were around my nephew and my boys, and one of the toddlers pulled lint out of his belly-button and handed it to them, they practically screamed "THANK YOU!"

    What's up with THAT? I shoveled a whole dump truck load of topsoil to level out the front lawn one Missouri summer while I was in high school. Wore blisters on my hands! And didn't get so much as an offhanded "thanks."

  14. The amazing thing is that despite all of this, there are still plenty of folks walking around with poor self-esteem and depressed!

  15. I, too, generally agree with you, but I believe it is equally bad if parents (or others) continually tear kids down, never encourage them, or give them a good boost. But that's not the topic of your post today. As always, it seems to be the healthy middle a.k.a. common sense that's gone these days.