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It began as the byproduct of the 1980s self-esteem movement, in which parents and teachers were told to reward and stroke kids pretty much constantly, supposedly to make them confident.
Dr. Ernie Swihart, an author and behavioral pediatrician at South Lake Pediatrics in Minnetonka, decried the self-esteem movement from its inception. Then, as now, he believed kids should be taught to be inwardly focused, self-sufficient creatures able to shift their own gears.
Real self-esteem -- for all of us -- comes from overcoming an obstacle-laden challenge, he believes, with hard work. Lavishing praise, he contends, is counterproductive and, if anything, makes kids needy and voracious for that other self-esteem-movement buzzword: validation.