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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

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  179 ratings  ·  49 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 433)
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Lisa Kelsey
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
Tim
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.
Sarah
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/
...more
Nancy
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
Trace
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
Melissa
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
Tina
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
Laura
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
Allison
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
...more
Michaela
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!!
Vanessa
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
L
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
Mary
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
...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.

I
...more
Lisalou
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
...more
Krisette Spangler
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
...more
Laira Magnusson
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
Corinne
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
Jeralyne
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
Janet
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
Julie
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
Graham Mumm
Very one-sided analysis of the problems that the modern youth face. A few good insights but most of it needs to be thrown out. Enough for an average blog post (maybe) but not much more.
Vicky
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
Raspberryhouse
Most valuable parenting book.
Lynnea
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'
...more
Betty
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.
Stacy
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!
Corinne
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.
Wendy
February book club selection - I agreed with the premise of this book that kids are being raised thinking that they are "special" and then when they get into the real world they can't deal with "life" because life treats them like they are a normal person and not "special" like their parents always told them. I was disappointed the author didn't provide many solutions to this problem.
Lorellin
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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“Help your children to see and notice poverty and differences in privilege that seem inhumane and unfair. Do this in a way that does not increase guilt or shame for what you have as a family, but rather helps them see their responsibility for sharing with others and keeping others in mind.” 0 likes
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