Today’s Highly Praised Teens Struggle with Failure

Teens these days have been raised in a highly supportive environment (compared to that of older generations), receiving praise and encouragement from parents, mentors and peers on a regular basis from the moment they are born. However, a recent article in the Chicago Tribune discusses the potential harmful effects that this effusive amount of praise can have, resulting in teenagers harboring more unrealistic expectations about the future, in addition to having more difficulty dealing with failure. The article references the self-esteem movement, which began in the 1960s, as the catalyst for changing the way people raised their kids. Schools have also played a huge role by implementing policies geared toward nurturing students’ emotional health.

While this trend is certainly positive, there are noticeable downsides as well. For example, a recent study found that twice as many high school seniors in 2006 reported earning an A average compared to seniors in 1976. This raises the inevitable question: Are today’s teenagers overly pampered? And are we therefore more unprepared for the real world?

I think there is some truth to these probing questions about our generation. I’m sure that a number of us are guilty of talking to a teacher about receiving a B+ or A- instead of an A (count me in as one). But I hope that we are also aware that not everything will be handed to us on a platter. Nitpicking of grades aside, I worked hard to research, network, update my resume and interview in order to obtain my internship this summer. What amazes me is that some of my peers don’t bother to find jobs at all. No one will hire a college student, no matter what your GPA or completed degree, without strong work experience or evidence of a hard work ethic and relatable skills.

Take initiative when you look for a summer job or need a letter of recommendation from a teacher; don’t expect them to just land on your doorstep. And the next time you don’t get an A, try to shrug it off–after all, the real world doesn’t come with grades. What you will ultimately be rewarded for is your ability to prove your worth and positively impact others, not a letter on a paper–and correct me if I’m wrong, but that gives a bigger dose of self-esteem than just another pat on the back or award on the shelf.

Photo via MasterFile.com