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The Self-Esteem Trap: Raising Confident and Compassionate Kids in an Age of Self-Importance
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The Self-Esteem Trap: Raising Confident and Compassionate Kids in an Age of Self-Importance

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  206 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Kids today are depressed and anxious. They also seem to feel entitled to every advantage and unwilling to make the leap into adulthood. As Polly Young-Eisendrath makes clear in this brilliant account of where a generation has gone astray, parents trying to make their children feel special are unwittingly interfering with their kids' ability to accept themselves and cope wi ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 2nd 2008 by Little, Brown and Company
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Lisa Kelsey
Nov 13, 2013 Lisa Kelsey rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up because I was attracted to the subtitle: "Raising Confident and Compassionate Kids in an Age of Self-Importance." As a tail-end babyboomer who grew up during the 70s in California I technically don't fit the demo as far as the generations encompassed in "GenMe" as the author calls it, but as I read this book it became painfully obvious right away that I myself had not entirely escaped the self-esteem trap (California is always ahead of the curve, perhaps). I did grow up bei ...more
Laira Magnusson
Feb 05, 2013 Laira Magnusson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I definitely needed to read this book at this point in my life. I have been struggling with many of things she discusses, both as a parent and as a "Gen Me'er" who is trying to figure out my life path. It was incredibly reassuring to hear I am not alone in not knowing what to do with being told my whole life how I can "do anything I want." Fear of failure, fear of making the wrong choices, fear of regret.... I have been immobilized by all of these thing. As a parent, I have been overly concerned ...more
Sep 21, 2014 Tim rated it liked it
It is quite good and pretty spot on about the self esteem that just made kids today think they're entitled and better than anyone. But, i feel that this author puts an idea that religion is needed as if that would help teach kids to be more considerate of others or less self-centered. That is not true. Religion doesn't have anything to do with how well a person would be in a society.
Dec 05, 2010 Sarah rated it it was ok
The author has some important ideas, but has a far more traditional/ conservative philosophy on the place of children in our society than I do, and this combined with her "kids these days are all losers and need to get off my lawn" attitude made the book less useful than it could be.

It did remind me of the importance of reminding kids that they are parts of communities larger than themselves. That's something I think I have done a reasonable job at regularly conveying from a kindness and social/
Sep 09, 2013 Nancy rated it it was amazing
I read recently a book about raising girls in a "me" culture and it worried me, mostly because I felt the logic of the author was so far from my own sense of of right and wrong. After reading this book I feel so much better. This book gives the keys to becoming good people, not just for kids but for anyone brave enough to try. This book embraces the potential of ordinariness. I can allow myself to be ordinary and still feel happiness, and I get to help my exceptionally average kids to set goals ...more
Dec 23, 2011 Trace rated it it was amazing
Oh, what an important read this was for me... if you too were under the impression that building the self esteem of your child meant including words of praise, telling them how unique and so very special they are, then I'd love to get your opinion after you read THIS book... and yet wow... it makes perfect, perfect sense... what a "ME" focused world we've become with huge senses of entitlement and what a trap we've set... GREAT, GREAT book...I just wish all of the people who aren't into reading ...more
Amanda Carroll
Catchy, but misleading title. Our culture is currently fixated with this belief that "being special," ie Mr. Roger's feel-goodedness is/has ruined an entire generation.

More adequately stated, false praise is creating egoism and emotional vulnerability.

Moral of the story: be genuine in your appraisal of your children, their strengths as well as weaknesses, and this will guide you to guide them in their journey to adulthood.

I summed up in a few sentences what it took this author an entire book.

Aug 02, 2011 Vanessa rated it it was amazing
Awesome book! Difficulties and disappointments are a part of life. And we do our children a disservice when we overindulge them and praise them too much and shield them from the bad consequences of their actions. As a society, we are raising children who think that they are better than everyone else; who believe that they will be successful (even famous!); who are used to and expect to get positive feedback (or else they act like brats!). And what we are doing is collectively mixing a toxic cock ...more
Jun 18, 2015 Tina rated it liked it
Started strong, with compelling reasons explaining what seems to be a widespread notion that young people feel entitled (it's the parents!). In a nutshell, children at a young age need to meet adversity in their lives in order for them to figure out how to deal with it and get over it. Too often parents are interfering and not giving their kids the chance to rise to that challenge. Kids grow up thinking they are special, then can't handle life when they aren't treated in the special way as adult ...more
Jan 16, 2014 Allison rated it it was amazing
This is more than an excellent parenting book; it's a book that embodies much of my life philosophy. Young-Eisendrath gives nuggets of wisdom such as "We find ourselves not independently of other people and institutions but through them" while offering practical advice on how to translate this knowledge into our day-to-day actions with our children and others around us.

She asserts that we can raise children who can overcome the depression, anxiety and addiction that plagues the youth of today b
Sep 25, 2015 InvincibleGail rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
I'm not sure I completely buy in to all of Young-Eisendrath's views. I certainly am convinced that the self esteem trap exists and that my generation (myself included) are fully entrenched in it because of how we were parented. Being raised to think you can do anything and that you deserve to reach your dreams only sets you up to feel unfulfilled. I do agree that buying in to believing that being "ordinary" is perfectly okay can set up a child to have a positive but realistic outlook on life. Ho ...more
Feb 05, 2011 Mary rated it liked it
Depending which chapter I read the score changed from 3 to 4 stars. I think her passion for certain topics was reflected in her writing style.

Her initial assertation is that you shoudn't teach children that they are special. Initially I totally disagreed and my husband was shocked that I would continue to read on but I said I wanted her to convince me. I love a good debate after all. And in the end, to some point I agree. But I think her concern is more raising children who aren't entitled. My
Feb 17, 2009 Lisalou rated it really liked it
A very helpful parenting/self-help book that talks about the problems today with overpraising and self-esteem. Overall I learned about my parents and how that experience might translate to my own parenting.

Although she criticizes AP, Helicopter and Indigo parents she is no way advocating a return to harsh parenting. She feels a combination of parenting skills are need to produce autonomous children based on the lessons we've learned from parenting theory in the past as well as what we know abou
Liz S.
Apr 03, 2013 Liz S. rated it really liked it
Interesting points & different persoecyivd than many mainstream parenting books. This book's title isn't a good fit with the bulk of the parenting & child psychology points the authors focuses on throughout the book. I think the best summary of her thoughts is that there is something to be says for embracing & celebrating "ordinary." I agreed with many of her discussion of character building or life skills that are lost today. She isn't saying to not praise & encourage which coul ...more
Oct 09, 2014 Melissa rated it really liked it
This book was very helpful in regards to some items that I was on the fence about. One of the first things I thought while reading this piece was "finally!" I very much disliked the rose-colored glasses approach that my parents often had with me while growing up. An approach that left me unprepared for a number of circumstances in adulthood. The world is not often going to bend to an individual and hard feelings and disappointments are inevitable. Children need to understand this aspect of exist ...more
Krisette Spangler
Mar 08, 2010 Krisette Spangler rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This was a great parenting book about raising our children to responsible caring members of society. She spent a lot of time talking about teaching our children to care about more than themselves. We live in a society where people feel they are entitled to more than they earn. The author points out how this is partially started when our children are small. There's a lot of food for though in this one.

"Self-esteem can never be simply implanted by others' comments, but it can be interfered with by
Mar 14, 2011 Corinne rated it liked it
This book was written by a psychologist who has seen people of my and my parent's generation who never felt satisfied with their level of achievement. She talks about how we were trained to believe we are "special"-- in a way, better than everyone else-- which can be a big letdown because our expectations may be unreasonably high and we don't connect as well with others. Basically re-inforces the idea that we are all interconnected and the importance of helping eachother and not living in a vacu ...more
May 09, 2009 Janet rated it really liked it
This thoughtful, helpful self-help/parenting book argues that young people do not benefit from being lavished with praise and their parents' conviction that they are "special", so much as they suffer later from an inability to maneuver in the world on its very real and far less indulgent terms. Dr. Young-Eisendrath uses research, interviews, and lessons from spiritual practice. She urges parents and individuals to nurture self-awareness and acceptance in themselves and their children, by develop ...more
Nov 25, 2013 Jeralyne rated it really liked it
I think this is a very important book for parents to read. The catchword of entitlement is everywhere in the media these days. This book tackles the issue head on. There were some ideas that I didn't totally agree with in the book. As well, there were parts of the book that made me remember snot so lovely moments of my childhood that undoubtedly had an effect, and still do have an effect, on my own self esteem. However, overall the book presents a solid argument of how to build a child's self es ...more
Apr 21, 2010 Julie rated it really liked it
This was a very thought provoking book about how we motivate our children. It made me think about the "you can do anything you want to if you just work hard enough" or "just follow your dreams" platitudes so many of us tell our kids, who tend to believe it. I really wanted to be a NASA astronaut but no matter how many science classes I took (and got Cs in) and how hard I tried to master math (and failed), it wasn't meant to be. The author offers interesting insights from now-adults who wrapped u ...more
Aug 19, 2014 Laura rated it liked it
I enjoyed the book and it did enlighten me more about the self esteem trap which I totally fell into with my son in the 70's. My intentions were good (although ultimately self serving) praise manipulates kids as much as punitive forms of discipline (the latter being how I was raised.) This book is written in a theory style vs. practicum except for her suggestion of give your child a religion first and later on he can choose to rebel against it, which I agree with. I made that mistake too - so no ...more
Oct 09, 2009 Vicky rated it liked it
Here is a good book not only for parents with younger children but for anyone who wants to understand the differences between the generations. Why MEgeneration is so self-absorbed and what had created the baby-Boomers phenomena? Why children in Japan will offer you a seat on the train while the kids in the USA would not even think about it? How does the style of modern parenting create a generation of anxious and depressed young adults and why parents who are not strict enough with their childre ...more
Jacob Cowan
Dec 16, 2015 Jacob Cowan rated it it was amazing
This is a book for any parent, or child of parents, born after the mid 1960's. Read it now to find out what your parents did wrong, what you did wrong, and if you are lucky enough to read it before you have kids, what you can avoid doing wrong. This book is absolutely on the mark. I would also recommend Pampered Child Syndrome by Maggie Mamen, and Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy Baumeister, who explore this topic from different angles. This is such an important issue. ...more
Jan 30, 2009 Lynnea rated it it was ok
I only read a bit of this book. It seemed to be talking in circles and not really getting to any point or telling me HOW to raise these confident, compassionate kids the title claims. Although, I did agree with the over-praising and the problems with parents who allow their children to run the household... It was due at the library and I was having a hard time focusing on it so I returned it.
If I would have made it past the first 50 pages, I probably could give it a more fair review... but that'
Mar 26, 2014 Michaela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eye opening

I found this book hit on and pinpointed for me the culture of my children. I have been watching how they and their peers interact and have been unable, until this point, to figure out what has gone wrong and where to begin to unravel this weave of entitlement. the ideas presented in this book make complete sense to me. It was not a 5 star for me because it remained a bit theoretical and I would have loved more practicality, interviews and hard examples. I loved it though!!
Jun 09, 2010 Betty rated it liked it
Offers a theory to counter helicopter parenting-- your kids need to learn to solve their own problems in order to develop self-confidence, they need to learn to be part of groups/society/hierarchical organizations in order to succeed and they need to develop emotional intelligence in order to face their own weaknesses and the inevitable ebb and flow that life brings. The author is short on actual practices/strategies and is focused more on developing the argument for this kind of parenting.
Mar 09, 2010 Stacy rated it liked it
This is another one of those parent books I would recommend as important reading material. The author is a psychologist/family counselor and after years of experience (and also a parent) had some very sound advice and wise thoughts to pass on to parents wanting to raise children in a society hyper-obsessed with "giving" our children good self-esteem. There is so much to agree with and implement or even pat yourself on the back from time to time. Go on, read it!
Sep 05, 2012 Corinne rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I am very happy that I read this book. I have learned so much from it. Though I am struggling with how to implement all that was discussed. I took a lot of notes along the way. Her ideas are achievable, it will just take some processing time for me and my relations. I am also fighting against buying the book for everyone I know with children. :) EDITED: On her website is a workbook she made to help expand on the ideas and strategies in the book.
Michaela Renee
May 19, 2011 Michaela Renee rated it it was amazing
This one was recommended in one of my Psych classes, but was told it was a good read for anyone. Wholeheartedly concur. If you wonder how we are raising a society of overly entitled individuals, pick up this book and see where it stems might be surprised, and even might change your own parenting methodology.

This book had moments where it provided some useful insight into raising children in a modern world. There were several chapters that provided a lot of information about what parents are doing wrong but offered no practical ideas to apply in your own parenting to avoid making these mistakes, which was a bit frustrating.
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A real winner 1 4 Feb 20, 2009 08:15PM  
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