Hollow Kids: Recapturing the Soul of a Generation Lost to the Self-Esteem Myth

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Being a kid today is starkly different from what it was a generation ago. In a society where children have more toys, more television, and more independence than ever before, we have left them dangerously empty inside. Children from elementary to high school are more likely to commit acts of violence, abuse drugs and alcohol, or engage in risky sexual behavior than their parents were, while test scores and academic performance have declined.

The self-esteem movement -- the ...

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Overview

Being a kid today is starkly different from what it was a generation ago. In a society where children have more toys, more television, and more independence than ever before, we have left them dangerously empty inside. Children from elementary to high school are more likely to commit acts of violence, abuse drugs and alcohol, or engage in risky sexual behavior than their parents were, while test scores and academic performance have declined.

The self-esteem movement -- the teaching and parenting panacea that was supposed to cure these social ills and create brilliant, healthy children -- has fallen flat. By bending over backwards to make kids feel good about themselves, educators, the media, and well-meaning parents have created a generation of hollow kids who lack the fundamental understanding of who they are and what they can accomplish. How did our society become obsessed with the feel-good curriculum -- a practice that places making every child feel special above learning the basics of appropriate behavior? Why did it become wrong to hold kids to standards of learning in reading, writing, and arithmetic? What steps can we take to ensure our children grow up with a healthy self-acceptance? Hollow Kids has the answers.

Written by two highly respected psychologists, this groundbreaking book masterfully debunks the self-esteem myth with hard evidence and insightful observations. Drs. Laura L. Smith and Charles H. Elliott meticulously demonstrate the damage overinflated self-esteem can inflict on our children: Narcissism, prompting aggression, violence, and delinquency; a distorted self image, leading to tattooing, piercing, bulimia, and anorexia; and a ceaseless quest to feel good, stimulating insatiable materialism, shoplifting, and substance abuse. An extreme example is that of the Columbine boys who killed themselves, their classmates, and a teacher. The notes they left behind showed that they harbored a shocking sense of superiority and self-absorption.

A clarion call to parents, educators, and child psychologists, this book clearly shows how to identify much of the ill that plagues today's youth and root it out. By parents reclaiming their position of authority and educators reestablishing a leadership role and lost standards of excellence, we can fill this generation and those to come with a healthy understanding of themselves and their society.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761516743
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/7/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.83 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura L. Smith, Ph.D., has worked with high-risk children for more than twenty years. She has published numerous articles, and made national and international presentations, on the danger of unrealistic self-esteem. In addition, she is the coauthor, with Dr. Elliot, of Why Can't I Be the Parent I Want to Be? Currently, Dr. Smith is both a school and clinical psychologist with a private practice.
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Table of Contents

Preface vii
Acknowledgments xi
Chapter 1 The Self-Esteem Movement: The Selling of an Illusion 1
Chapter 2 Focus on Self: Esteem or Narcissism? 27
Chapter 3 Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Self-Esteem and Obsession with Appearance 55
Chapter 4 Feeling Too Good: Spending, Sensations, and Substances 83
Chapter 5 Violence: The Darkest Side of Self-Esteem 109
Chapter 6 "You're So Special!" Self-Esteem in the Schools 139
Chapter 7 The Perfection Paradox 171
Chapter 8 The Acceptance Alternative 189
Chapter 9 Parenting Solid Kids 211
Chapter 10 Teaching Solid Kids 231
Epilogue: Concluding Thoughts at the Mall 249
Notes 257
Index 293
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