Do Kids Prefer Praise over $ and Sex?

Kara Powell | Jan 26, 2011

A fellow researcher sent me a link to this interesting article about a study looking at the needs and wants of college students. According to the lead researcher at Ohio State University, college students favored things that boost their self-esteem, such as a compliment or a good grade, over other items such as money or sex.

Surprising, right?

The article goes on to suggest that perhaps kids today are being raised with too much of an emphasis on self-esteem, so that they can easily become narcissistic (sidenote: one of the instruments used was the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, a name that made me smile).

As leaders and parents, boosting kids’ self-esteem is a fine line to walk. We want them to feel good about themselves and their skills but we don’t them to become too dependent on the praise and compliments of others, including us.

What helps us find that balance? My initial answer is to keep reminding kids that GOD loves them, GOD created them, GOD gave them special gifts, and GOD wants to work through them to use those gifts. That way the focus is GOD (hence the repeated capital letters for GOD in this paragraph) and not them.

What helps you find that balance with kids?

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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