Human Beings or Human Doings?
Given our achievement driven culture, raising children to feel complete, whole and capable has become increasingly challenging. From a young age, kids are praised more often for their successes and accomplishments rather than their personality traits and intrinsic qualities. Think about it: when a baby takes their first step, “HOORAY!” When a child scores their first goal, “WOOHOO!” When a teen brings home an A on a test, “YAY!”
Because of this, kids often grow up equating their self-worth with their accomplishments, achievements and successes. In this way, we are creating a generation of human doings.
Subsequently, when teens fail to achieve, their self-esteem plummets, often leaving them feeling worthless and ashamed. Without the validation they have grown accustomed to, human doings fall apart over the slightest of failures, or worse, never take action at all due to fear of failure.
In my practice, I see tons of girls who are completely burnt out by over-achievement culture. They stay up late and wake up early to do homework for multiple AP classes. They take on 2 sports teams in one season to prove they can do it all. They overbook and overwork themselves in hopes of pleasing their teachers, coaches and parents.
But in the end, when they fail to achieve their impossible standards, girls wind up exhausted, strung out and disappointed.
So what can you do prevent your daughter from becoming a human doing? Parents can begin to redirect excessive attention away from external achievements and shift their focus and attention towards their kids’ internal assets. Acknowledging girls for their values, work ethic and relationship skills more regularly can improve confidence and self-esteem in the face of failure or poor performance.
For example, “Honey, you are such a good listener. Your friends are lucky to have a supportive friend like you!” Or “I know you didn’t score a goal in your game today, but I’m so proud of your effort on the field!” This kind of praising of intrinsic gifts and qualities helps girls to learn that they are more than a trophy on the wall or an A+ on a paper.
Supporting your child in being authentic, honest, unique, kind, philanthropic, generous and empathic will undoubtedly lead to a generation of fulfilled, happy and successful human beings.