In America today it seems that we’ve developed a culture that tells children that they are special and uniquely gifted regardless of their outcomes. This kind of thinking leads to lower achievement and a lessening in the desire to set and attain goals. When children feel overly special it can lead to a narcissistic adult who believes that somehow life owes him something. If you have a child who is good at math or science it is more important to teach them that they may become successful with hard work, not because they are special or gifted because unrewarded talent is almost a proverb. Hard work and dedication along with being gifted and talented lead to ultimate success and achievement.
We unknowingly harm our children when we make them feel special and giving them an unrealistic sense of comfort in a real world that may treat them quite harshly. These pampered children will become frustrated and unable to cope with the adult world they find. It exists in every facet of modern society but let’s take an example of youth sports where children today don’t compete but participate. Children don’t win or lose they play a game but invariably those children who are the most gifted, the most talented do learn to win and to achieve. At the end of the season though everybody gets a trophy and there are no valuable players but merely participants. The very act reduces the trophy to a meaningless piece of plastic instead of enjoying any kind of honor it’s meant to bestow.
I think that this will all lead to teens who see themselves as different compared to their peers who will tend to struggle more with depression and of course academic achievement. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t love their children and show affection to the children and your children surely are special to you. In order to raise healthy well-adjusted adults we need to teach our children that they can expect equality of opportunity but not equality of outcomes. We can and we must recognize individual achievement without degrading anyone else. A good example is a baseball pitcher who pitches a no-hitter was able to do so because all of his players were able to help him get 27 outs in a nine inning game. So while everyone gets a trophy perhaps we can reward outstanding achievement without damaging anyone else.
In teaching our children we must teach them of virtue, free will and independent thought. There is virtue to be selfless and to want to serve others and in doing so reap the rewards. The ability to know that by exercising free will we make choices and that in making those choices we can have both positive and negative outcomes. Helping our children to learn to decide and make the right choices for themselves. To instill the ability to reason different sides of an issue to come to their own unique understanding exercising their independent thought. The more important lesson that children need to learn is that we are all special, everyone is special and the greatest truth lies in that statement.