Friday, November 14, 2008

"I, for one, have been punished enough. I already own an American car."

So says David Harsanyi, in his recent column, "Taxpayer money may be handed to a rotting partnership."
A 15-year-old girl killed her classmate so she could "feel her pain:"
A 15-year-old accused of fatally shooting her classmate was upset because the two had recently stopped talking and told police she brought a gun to school because she "wanted her to feel pain like me," according to an affidavit.

Violent girls often attack other girls over relationship issues or boys. They, just like boys, need to learn the boundaries of anger. Unfortunately, in our "you go girl culture," that probably won't happen.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is a nation of "Little Princesses" a good thing?

A reader (thanks!) sends in this story on the over-inflated self-esteem of today's teens:

Today's American high school students are far likelier than those in the 1970s to believe they'll make outstanding spouses, parents and workers, new research shows.

They're also much more likely to claim they are "A" students with high IQs -- even though other research shows that today's students do less homework than their counterparts did in the 1970s.

The findings, published in the November issue of Psychological Science, support the idea that the "self-esteem" movement popular among today's parents and teachers may have gone too far, the study's co-author said.....

For example, in 1975, less than 37 percent of teens thought they'd be "very good" spouses, compared to more than 56 percent of those surveyed in 2006. Likewise, the number of students who thought they'd become "very good" parents rose from less than 36 percent in 1975 to more than 54 percent in 2006. And almost two-thirds of teens in 2006 thought they'd be exemplary workers, compared to about half of those polled in 1975.

As for self-reported academic achievement, twice as many students in 2006 than in 1976 said they earned an "A" average in high school -- 15.6 percent vs. 7.7 percent, the report found.

Compared to their counterparts from the '70s, today's youth also tended to rate themselves as more intelligent and were more likely to say they were "completely satisfied" with themselves.

There was one exception -- measures of "self-competency" (i.e., agreeing with statements such as, "I am able to do things as well as most other people") did not rise between 1976 and 2006. According to Twenge, that may mean that young people continue to feel great self-worth even as they remain unsure of their competence in specific tasks.....

The article points out that some researchers think kids are smarter and doing better than their counterparts.

But Twenge, who is the author of a book on young people's self-views called Generation Me, isn't convinced. In fact, she believes that today's parents may be sending another crop of young Americans down the same path.

"I have a 2-year-old daughter," she said. "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."

I wonder where all of this inflated self-esteem without competency will lead us?

Questions Needed

Hi all, I am doing a segment for an upcoming PJTV segment on coping with the holidays. I would appreciate any questions you have about surviving the holidays this season. It can be about politics, family relationships or anything else having to do with holiday stress. You can leave them in the comment section and I will choose some to read on air. Thanks!

How to improve your conversation skills at a cocktail party (or prove yourself a first class geek)

Now, I know most Dr. Helen readers are just dying to impress others at a cocktail party by boring people with a bunch of facts. But seriously, do you ever wish you had more facts at your fingertips about politics, science, religion or the arts? If so, check out this new book, Know It All: The Little Book of Essential Knowledge. It's a nifty little compact book that has facts and information on just about every topic and is designed to help you hold up your end of a conversation at a cocktail party or just in general. I was never one to give a damn about whether I impressed others at a soiree, but you can use the information for other reasons, such as to help your kids with their homework or just to answer their questions about how the world works.

There are quizzes on all the material that help you remember what you've learned. For example, questions in a section on "The Structure of Society" include: "What was the title of Thomas More's most famous work?" [Utopia] or "Name the man who is widely viewed as 'the father of economics'" [Adam Smith]. Now, many of you intelligent Dr. Helen readers will already know the answers to these questions and others like it, but there may be some poor souls out there in need of help.

If so, it would make a great gift or stocking stuffer for someone who would like a quick reference on practical knowledge or even for yourself to brush-up on facts from certain areas that you may have long ago forgotten.


PJTV--Conservative Culture and Mandatory Community Service

You can watch a segment of PJTV with me talking to Bill Whittle about conservative culture (reading your emails and comments), why Obama's mandatory community service might backfire and why the self-esteem movement failed. Take a look at PJTV--it might just be the next big thing in conservative culture.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Jules Crittenden on the Obamaglow: "We get to sit back and watch the show. Gonna make the world a better place? Kumbayah, dude."

Ask Dr. Helen: Where is Conservative culture?

My PJM column is up:

Is there no creativity today among those who lean right? If so, where can you find it?

Read the column and let us know what books, magazines, shows, music, movies, etc., you consume to get your dose of conservative ideas. Do you organize or belong to any groups that have conservative or libertarian ideas? Lastly, how can we reach out and support more right-leaning culture?


Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Optimistic Child

I thought I would take a break from politics to tell you about a book I am reading that might be of interest to some of you. I have always liked the work of Martin Seligman who wrote Authentic Happiness that I wrote about here. But the other day at work, I picked up a colleague's copy of Seligman's The Optimistic Child: A Proven Program to Safeguard Children Against Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience and then bought a copy. It is definitely worth a read if you have a depressed child or just want to help your child see the world in a less pessimistic way.

Seligman starts off describing the problem of pessimism in our society. "It boils down to this: dwelling on the most catastrophic cause of any setback. Pessimism is fast becoming the typical way our children look at the world." He goes on to state that "pessimism is an entrenched habit of mind that has sweeping and disastrous consequences: depressed mood, resignation, underachievement, and even unexpectedly poor health."

Later in the book, Seligman takes on the self-esteem movement, stating that the way Armies of American teachers along with American parents are trying to bolster kid's self-esteem is actually eroding kid's sense of self-worth. "By emphasizing how a child feels, at the expense of what a child does--mastery, persistence, overcoming frustration and boredom, and meeting challenge--parents and teachers are making this generation of children more vulnerable to depression. Often, people think that low self-esteem leads to school failure, drug use, dependence on welfare and other social ills. But the research literature shows just the opposite. Low self-esteem is a consequence of failing in school or being on welfare, of being arrested--not the cause."

The rest of the book focuses on direct information and techniques for parents to help their child overcome the depression that comes from thinking in a pessimistic way. "Children who are prone to depression focus on the worst-case scenario, about their troubles and about the problems of the world. They blame themselves for the uncontrollable: they gravitate to the most negative interpretation.... Such children can learn to think about other factors that may have contributed to the problem, so that they can problem-solve by focusing their energy on the parts of the problem that are under their control."

The final chapter talks about the limits of optimism, for example, pointing to studies that show that depressed people are accurate judges of how much skill they have, whereas non-depressed people think they are more skillful than others judge them to be.

Anyway, it is a good book with some good information if you are a parent or teacher in need of some help for a child who suffers from depression.