A recent thread on redshirting for school entry has been iced for reasons that are none of my concern. No worries, we’ve had redshirting discussions before, but it had been getting to a point of what I was thinking was an interesting digression that I am going to bring up in its own thread:
One position was that creating a more self-confident child (confident because they have had many successes, made the sports teams, etc.) would create a more self-confident adult which is a good thing.
The other position was that learning how to not always win, that success is not something that just happens easily, that obstacles need to be overcome and persevered past, getting back up when knocked down, what gets referred to as “grit”, is the more important skill to inculcate.
Now of course the two are not opposite ends of a pole. Some confidence that one will be able to eventually prevail with persistence and tenacity is required to create grit. A child who always fails no matter how hard they try is unlikely to learn tenacity. But a child who never fails is also unlikely to learn how to persevere in its face and to see adversity as a challenge.
So the HO question: given a child with natural abilities of X whatever that is, which would you feel is more important to foster - grit (maybe best thought of as tenacity in the face of failures), or self-confidence and high self-esteem?
Accepting that either extreme is in fact not ideal, given ability level X is it better long term to grow up competing against those who you can beat more than half of the time, or competing against those who you lose to more than half of the time?
I’m choosing grit and that confidence is overrated. Some degree of insecurity is actually desirable. It drives us. I cannot find the study but I distinctly remember one that found an inverse correlation between perception of math ability and performance on testing of math ability … kids who are actually good in math are pushed into harder classes and given problems that they struggle with so think they are not so great while kids who are not stay in the lower levels given more problems that they can solve.
Having too little confidence to try is clearly undesirable but unwarranted confidence is disastrous.