Teens Think They Are the Bomb

Filed under: Teen Culture

A recent survey of high school students finds that that they are not only they fabulous, they know they are fabulous. In 2006, researchers compared teen's answers to questions about their 'self view' to teen's answers to the same questions in 1975. What they found is that perhaps we have gone overboard in the 'self-esteem' movement.

56% of today's teens are sure they will be "very good" spouses when the time comes and 54% of them believe they will also be "very good" parents. In 1975, those percentages were 37% and 36% respectively. In addition, almost two thirds think they will be exemplary employees, compared to about half who did in 1975.

What could possibly be wrong with that kind of confidence? According to Jean Twenge, an associate professor of psychology and author of the book Generation Me, these over-confident kids may be setting themselves up for future disappointment. "High school students' responses have crossed over into a really unrealistic realm, with three-fourths of them expecting performance that's effectively in the top 20 percent," Twenge said.

But before you start rethinking your child-rearing techniques, consider the viewpoint of Jennifer Crocker, a professor of psychology and a longtime researcher in self-esteem. She thinks the numbers may not be indicative of a trend and even if they are, maybe there is a good reason for it. "The fact is that we are all getting smarter -- IQ is going up quite dramatically over this same period of time," she said. "Students may believe that they are getting trained better than they used to, that they are learning skills that they didn't use to have. So, maybe their predictions aren't unreasonable."

For her part, Twenge is convinced that we are in the midst of creating another generation of overly-confident kids. She points to her own experience as the mother of a two-year-old. "I see the parenting of kids around her age, and I haven't seen this changing. Look around -- about a fourth of the clothing available to her says 'Little Princess' on it."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.