Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Danger of Nice Children

Greg and I are in a small group right now studying a book called The Danger of Raising Nice Kids. The first time I saw the title, I was baffled. What's wrong with nice kids? I think my kids are nice? I want them to be nice.

But as we're delving into this book I am finding reasons why I want my kids to be more than nice. Let me share a few things from the first chapter with you. As we dive deeper into the book and into conversation I'm sure there will be more.

What is nice? According to the author it's a pleasant, friendly, well-mannered, carefully groomed and most likely conservatively dressed person. But Webster's dictionary will tell you that at one time nice meant strange, lazy and foolish coming from the Latin root for 'ignorant.'

If you noticed all of the things the author mentions in his description of nice are outward or behavioral issues. Yes those things are important but what about the qualities of the heart like vision, authenticity, listening, empathy, compassion, discernment, boudaries, contentment and passionate love?

So for now, I will leave you with some of the quotes that struck me the post from the author. Feel free to comment. I'd love to be in conversations with you about this too.

1. A lot of what passes as advice to parents, including advice to Christian parents, will help us raise nice kids. Nice wimpy kids. Kids without backbone, passion or courage. In this era, kids like that will be destroyed.

2. We need to know how to go far beyond influencing our children's behavior to influencing their heart, mind and skills for life. We need to learn to parent with purpose, to grow integrity within ourselves and our children.

3. Our children need qualities that will help them become warriors, not wusses.

The author has a whole discussion on how we are creating an entire generation of children who do not know how to fail. We offer praise to our kids about everything and tell them they did good, even if the didn't. Do they realize we're just patronizing them sometimes? I have a feeling my kids do. So back to authors quotes.

4. False praise creates fragile people. We want people to feel good about themselves. As a result of this esteem obsession, we have a generation who thinks they are entitled to things without working for them.

5. We need to resist our culture and allow our children to grow up slowly.

6. Don't be afraid of your child. Don't be afraid to draw the line. Children need a moral center - an anchor that provides stability while they choose friends, discern the right decisions and perceive others with empathy.

7. We need to train them to take criticism without falling apart. We need to permit scenarios in which they fail but learn that failure is never final, unless you blame someone else. Some of lifes greatest lessons can be learned from our failures, if we are willing. We need to help our children develop an accurate view of themselves, with clear-cut analysis of their strengths and weaknesses, instead of a hyped-up self-esteem based on shallow slogans. We want them to feel good about themselves without thinking god of themselves.

Ok friends - that's it for today. I'll bring you thoughts on chapter 2 tomorrow.

13 comments:

Fee said...

we should all get the book and read it or something. I liked quote #5....now I can't remember what it was LOL Dangit..be right back!

Fee said...

My kids are passionate and loud and not wimpy- thank goodness but I can totally see where that would happen....and how these days the kids all expect things....ah yes..growing up slowly---amen! I have to fight my brother and own family ALL the time on being protective and not allowing them to do things. Kev and I always say: If you give them too much freedom now it's harder to get it back....so we err on the side of caution....

Can't wait for chapter 2!

Awareness said...

There is another book out entitled "The Pampered Child" which elaborates on the same premise. I was on a parent panel about it last week on the local radio station. It was an interesting discussion......a pampered child is a combination of spoiled and overprotected.

I think the nice child is overprotected but may not have the spoiled side to it that often makes them into selfish little monsters.

I agree. I believe that we need to help our children learn to look outward.......to think of others and to advocate for others who need our help. Community involvement is a good step.

Nice is a nice start. I don't believe that "nice" has such a negative connotation despite the definition. But of course I have to say that, I'm Canadian and that's always the descriptive word to identify us wussies up here! :)

Enjoy your day and thank you for stopping by my blog

Simplyliz said...

Interesting idea. I totally agree with #4 and #7, but I'm not sure I'm on board with the nice=wussy.

Why does the name Tim Smith sound so familiar to me? Did he write Letters to Nicole? I think he spoke at BFC years ago if it's the same guy. Can't remember...

Lynne said...

I read a book years ago when I was teaching about false praise and how that is really such a disservice to always tell kids that they are doing great even when they really aren't. That stick with me when I was teaching and it has stuck with me now with my own kids. I really get that - and it is important not to undermine them or degrade them but on the other hand not coddle them and have them believe that everything out of their mouths is "it".

And #2 - I am not sure about that one. To me it seems that by influencing their behavior you can possibly be infulencing their hearts, minds, and skills. I guess I don't see that as a one of the other choice. I think by doing one you are doing the other as well.

Jessica Bellus Photography said...

4. False praise creates fragile people. We want people to feel good about themselves. As a result of this esteem obsession, we have a generation who thinks they are entitled to things without working for them.
Encouraging your child to try harder or approach things from a different perspective to attain their goal is so much better than decieving them by sugar coating the obvious..
I dont understand this I guess.. why not be honest?

5. We need to resist our culture and allow our children to grow up slowly. Amen to that.. seriously..

6. Don't be afraid of your child. Don't be afraid to draw the line. Children need a moral center - an anchor that provides stability while they choose friends, discern the right decisions and perceive others with empathy.

Totally agree

7. We need to train them to take criticism without falling apart. We need to permit scenarios in which they fail but learn that failure is never final, unless you blame someone else. Some of lifes greatest lessons can be learned from our failures, if we are willing. We need to help our children develop an accurate view of themselves, with clear-cut analysis of their strengths and weaknesses, instead of a hyped-up self-esteem based on shallow slogans. We want them to feel good about themselves without thinking god of themselves

as much as failure sucks.. it truly does make you learn from your mistakes.. at least for me anyways.

Constructive Criticism is hard for everyone to deal with at some level.. but Ive learned that its ok.. to agree to disagree, sometimes.

Julie O said...

Agree, agree, agree. Our children of today DO NOT KNOW HOW TO FAIL. What happened to the Baby Boomer generation mind set? They WOULD NOT fail. They had to make things happen so as to not suffer the likes of their parents and ancestors. Well their children were the product of NOT FAILING and produced subsequent generations of "HAVE" and no longer "NEED" mind sets. Yes we are setting our children up to be the generation before the Baby Boomers. The one's who will be stuck to "HAVE TO" figure out the struggle. This however does not mean our children of today should be forgetful that we have been commanded to LOVE. If we, and they, remember this we can not be ignorant as to what "nice" will do to our ablility to love constructively.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I agree with all these comments...what an interesting book. I always used to get SOOOOOO irritated with the Head Teacher at one of the schools I worked at (I'm a primary (grade) school teacher) because she insisted that the school sports day was just fun games...no winners, no losers...so that the kids didn't feel like failures because they couldn't do a sport. WHAT A CROCK!!!!!

Catherine said...

I think the bottom line is that we have to be PARENTS, not friends until they get to a certain age and stage.

Anonymous said...

We were sure aware of the point in time when our kids had an accurate amd realistic picture of their performance especially in sports. Just trying to be encouraging by giving them a compliment that was inflated made them angry and resentful and in a way not able to trust us. We learned to let them handle disappointment and defeat by asking them how they were feeling about such and such, letting them express their disappointment or discouragement and then trying to validate their feelings. We can relate to their feelings of failure and disappointment probably more than success. At some point, they know "you're just saying that". Its pretty easy to succeed, teaching them to get up and perservere is far more valuable.
Great study material...Jodi (sorry can't remember how to log in as a blogger!)

Anita said...

I can so relate. I can't tell you how many angry conversations we've had with store managers about their selection of clothing for young kids. Kids need to stay kids. Stop making them grow up so fast and stop encouraging it!

One of the best things my parents ever said to me is "I am not your friend, I am your parent. Don't confuse the two." I use that line on my children now and as much as they hate it, I passionately believe that you cannot be both to your children while they are growing up. You have got to draw boundaries. Kids need it.
Something I used to do a lot with Shona was to let her win board and card games a lot to boost her self esteem. Then I realized she wasn't learning to lose gracefully, so that ended. It's an ongoing process and a delicate line to follow, but I really believe they have got to learn to lose gracefully just as much as they need to win gracefully.
I have to admit, I would rather raise child to have backbone instead of to be a doormat. However, I can't stand them displaying attitude, especially to adults. So where to draw the line? It's so tough. Very thought provoking. :)

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

my old friend mike yaconelli used to say that most churches were trying to produce 'nice' people and as a consequence most people in church are boring!

he said that Jesus didn't die so we could be nice!

I see a parallel here.....

maria said...

I'm actually writing a report on the dangers of false praise in elementary school children and your blog helped me gain more of a direction. Thanks :)