Soft love is breeding a generation of bullies

Herald Sun 30 May 2012
Lavishing children with praise and constantly pumping up self-esteem is breeding a generation of bullies, groundbreaking research reveals. Prof Helen McGrath from RMIT, a key player in Australia’s anti-bullying policies, says mums, dads and educators have spent too much time telling kids that “darling, everything you do is wonderful”. Rather than giving children “trophies for coming seventh, eighth and ninth”, they instead need a good old-fashioned dose of reality – including in their school reports, she said. “The silliest thing you can tell children is, ‘If you set your mind to it, you can do anything you want’,” Prof McGrath said.

..Prof McGrath said new international studies were showing kids with inflated self-esteem were more likely to be ringleaders in bullying, while those with high self-respect – which she believes can be taught in classrooms – are more likely to help tackle the problem of bullying. Well-meaning parents and teachers had been unwittingly contributing to the problem for 30 years through the “failed self-esteem movement”, she said.