A topic came up in a conversation between a friend and I. It was centered around what we perceive as a trend towards “non-competitiveness” in American education. You have all heard the stories…no dodgeball in school…we cant have “winners” and “losers” because we don’t want our children “feeling” inferior…”failure” is turned into something to be avoided at all times instead of being viewed as a fact of life and an opportunity to grow.
It’s our opinion that children need to be exposed to the “facts of life”. We do fail, we fail all the time. There are winners and loosers in life. You will not be that precious unique snowflake out there in the job market. The idea is to learn what to do with failure, not to teach our children that failure is somehow unacceptable and to be avoided at all costs. That breeds people who never even try.
I think that there has been a bit of confusion between “toughening” our children and making them “bullies” or “mean”. When someone talks about “toughening” up a child it seems to get translated into being some overbearing father who wants to push their child to an unattainable standard. Or the abusive dad transforming their kid into a playground terror. Toughness isn’t the same as meanness.
Mental Toughness is defined as having the natural or developed psychological edge that enables one to cope better than their opponents with the many demands (e.g., competition, training, lifestyle) that are placed on them as a performer. Specifically, to be more consistent and better than your opponents in remaining determined, focused, confident, resilient, and in control under pressure.
Teaching our children that they are each a “precious snowflake” is all well and good, but what ultimately serves them better in life, protecting them from the pressures of reality or preparing them for it?