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The Telegram
  • Loretta LaRoche: You want your kids to have ‘grit’

  • Columnist Loretta LaRoche grew up knowing she was to be seen, not heard. Today, she sees many children being mollycoddled, and she says those kids are likely to wind up shy on what she calls emotional intelligence.

     

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  • New research shows that children who are raised to be resilient are more likely to develop habits that help them persevere through difficulty.
    The type of parenting and schooling that I had left no room for thinking that I could voice my opinion. I was not given choices about what to eat for breakfast, what clothes to wear or whether to clean my room.
    The nuns were even stricter. You were directed to “pay attention,” do your work and not make a pest of yourself. The nuns were in total control, and if you stepped out of line, your parents were called in, and then you knew you were really in for it. Children were told to be seen and not heard, and self-esteem was not an issue. Who knew that the future would bring a myriad psychological studies whose outcomes would make many parents become slaves to their children?
    Many of us have witnessed kids being allowed to run rampant and talk back to parents and teachers, and kids who seem to have countless needs that must be met for them to feel good. I have been in homes where toys were scattered everywhere, making the house look like a nursery school.
    After 20 years or so, Brad Bushman of Iowa State University and Roy Baumeister of Case Western Reserve University found that people with high self-esteem engaged in far more antisocial behavior than those with low self-worth. Baumeister told the New York Times that the data showed that racists, street thugs and school bullies all polled high on the self-esteem charts. He also said that “if you think you’re God’s gift, you’re particularly offended if other people don’t treat you that way.”
    An emerging paradigm is somewhat in alignment with how I was brought up, but it also resonates with some of how the new generation parents. It seems that “grit” is an important component of character and is incredibly useful in being able to get through life’s inevitable ups and downs. Mollycoddling children does not prepare them for developing emotional intelligence. Does that mean that a child has to live in fear of being reprimanded for even the slightest infraction like I did? No, but teaching children that they are not the center of the universe is an important part of helping to develop human beings who are civil and unselfish and who don’t believe that a tantrum will get their needs fulfilled.
    Author, humorist, PBS star and Fortune 500 trainer Loretta LaRoche lives in Plymouth, Mass. To share your pet peeves, questions or comments, write to The Humor Potential, 50 Court St., Plymouth, MA 02360. Email her, visit her website at www.stressed.com or call 800-998-2324. 
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