Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Self-Control vs Self-Esteem

In some Martial Arts Schools or tournament, every kid receives a trophy or medal, there are no losers, you don't want to hurt these little creature's feelings or self esteem. I have always thought that this is not the way to prepare people to behave in the real world. 

I believe that Martial Arts help us become better people who can positively impact our environment, society, community and country through cultivation of self control and self discipline - this is not an easy task. Self esteem acquired without working to improve one's self control is a worthless and even possibly toxic luxury

Angela Duckworth, is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Following her research on the importance of grit in achieveing success,  she was called in by West Point to predict which cadets have what it takes to survive the tough atmosphere at the academy...

Question to Ms Duckworth : Which is more important, self-discipline or self-esteem, for being successful as a student?

Answer : Ah, how great to be asked this question!

We did a study in which we followed kids for four years. We took their self-control ratings from parents and teachers and the kids themselves. We tracked them every year, and we kept their grades from school records, not from their own reports on their grades. We pitted self-control and self-esteem - we also took measures for both - against each other. Here's what we found: When kids increase in self-control, their grades go up later. But when kids increase their self-esteem, there is no effect on their grades. 

The bottom line is that our research shows that self-control is more important than self-esteem in determining achievement

People have been studying self-esteem for a long time, and this allows you to compare the self-esteem of kids who grew up in the nineties with, say, those who grew up in the seventies or eighties with regard to self-esteem. Self-esteem has gone up in the United States; achievement has not. 

If anything, compared with other countries, we have done worse, but our kids feel really good about themselves on average. What seems particularly interesting, and there is an article by J. P. Tangney on this, is that there is an uncoupling between your perception of your own competence and how much you like yourself. Many American kids, particularly in the last couple of decades, can feel really good about themselves without actually being good at anything. This is the problem with the "self-esteem at all costs" message. 

Self-esteem should be earned. I find that parents today, at least those in a high socioeconomic bracket, never want to say anything critical of their children. Everybody has to be a winner. You take your children to a soccer game, and they don't keep score anymore. They don't want anybody to lose. Well, it's a good thing for kids to lose sometimes. They see what it's like to get up again. They realize it's not the end of the world. 


The scholar Roy Baumeister began believing in self-esteem as a predictor of success, but he did studies and it isn't. Self-control is.   

Read the full article

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