Should we teach kids to "brag"?

SilentPanda

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Oct 8, 2002
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"Brag" is mostly there due to a short title... ramblings incoming!

So reading forums, facebooks, twitters, etc, and even general voice conversations, it seems like people are trying to out-miserable each other. Are our lives so overwhelmed with miserable things that we really don't have anything good happen, or at least enough to talk about?

Then I started to wonder if maybe this is a side effect of teaching kids to be humble and not to brag about good things in their lives. At least that's how it was when I was young... even most of the cartoon/comic book heroes that fed my brain growing up weren't allowed to speak of their good deeds or good fortunes simply because they wanted to maintain their hidden identity.

I don't want to get into specific examples regarding the news because that'll just throw the whole thread downhill but, even the news cycle keeps the bad stories perpetuating into eternity. We sit around and complain that there was no "good news" on but then when the happy story comes on that some of the news channels seem to force out of their mouths comes on, we zone out.

I hear people sitting around saying everybody is complaining about something yet all they are doing is complaining themselves 20 minutes later.

Of course I have no data and never will. But basically, do you think it might help if we let kids verbally state their achievements? Or do people really just have nothing good going on these days...? It seems we tell kids not to brag in order to not stir jealousy but now in adulthood I feel like people are jealous that you're more miserable than they are anyway... I'd rather people used jealousy to be happier than not...
 

gibbz

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May 31, 2007
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I don't necessarily think that it is attributable to humbleness. I think in many cases, people want to engineer excuses for the problems or lack of success in their lives. People also seem to want others to empathize with them. I don't know that people who are humble are those who are eliciting sympathy from others.

For instance, I came from a family with no college background, yet I was able to be a standout student and am now finishing my Ph.D. in meteorology from The University of Oklahoma (which is one of the top 3 meteorology programs in the world). I don't however, feel the need to pre-emptively tell everyone that. If it is brought up, i will talk about it. I think humbleness is a quality, not a problem.
 

Wotan31

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Jun 5, 2008
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I don't necessarily think that it is attributable to humbleness. I think in many cases, people want to engineer excuses for the problems or lack of success in their lives.
x2. The fact that you're broke, deep in debt, and on your 4th marriage couldn't possibly be your own fault, due to your own terrible decision making because you're a jackass and an idiot. It's gotta be due to some external forces beyond your control. :rolleyes:

Quite frankly I think kids these days need to do just the opposite from what the OP is suggesting. I grew up when you actually had to achieve something in order to feel proud about yourself. None of the sheltered coddled "everybody is a winner! everybody gets a trophy! everyone should feel proud of themselves!!" kid raising mentality that prevails today.
I think humbleness is a quality, not a problem.
Precisely. Those who actually HAVE achieved don't feel the need to brag. Those who do constantly brag and talk themselves up are usually liars and fakes trying to craft an image for themselves.
 

SilentPanda

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Everybody doesn't need to be even. It's just that we teach that if you do good things you don't talk about them and if you do bad things we do talk about them. I'm just wondering if that might help push people towards wrong doing so they have something to talk about. It's almost as if we've chosen to make ourselves ashamed of good things.
 

Zombie Acorn

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x2. The fact that you're broke, deep in debt, and on your 4th marriage couldn't possibly be your own fault, due to your own terrible decision making because you're a jackass and an idiot. It's gotta be due to some external forces beyond your control. :rolleyes:

Quite frankly I think kids these days need to just the opposite from what the OP is suggesting. I grew up when you actually had to achieve something in order to feel proud about yourself. None of the sheltered coddled "everybody is a winner! everybody gets a trophy! everyone should feel proud of themselves!!" kid raising mentality that prevails today.

Precisely. Those who actually HAVE achieved don't feel the need to brag. Those who do constantly brag and talk themselves up are usually liars and fakes.
I think it depends where you live, there wasn't much of a "everybody is a winner" mentality when I was in school/sports, but I notice that they are heading that way more and more each year. Things such as making sure each kid has equal play time regardless of skill, not keeping track of score so there was no loser (this one really baffled me). I don't think its setting a good example for real life that happens later on.

Some schools don't even give failing grades, I know my old grade school gives +/- instead of letter grades now. They also knocked the grade scale back from 94-100 A to a ten point system.
 

SilentPanda

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Things such as making sure each kid has equal play time regardless of skill, not keeping track of score so there was no loser (this one really baffled me). I don't think its setting a good example for real life that happens later on.
And parents always let their kids win at Candyland too... ughhh.

Not only do we not let kids fail, we also don't let them succeed... and if they do succeed we tell them not to make a fuss about it.
 

jbennardo

macrumors 6502a
Jun 16, 2009
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Nobody seems to know what a real achievement these days. Graduating from kindergarten? Graduating from 2nd grade? Seriously? Complete with cap and gown plus pictures in addition to regular school pictures.

You passed.. good for you.. now get ready for the next school year. :rolleyes:
 

Gelfin

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Sep 18, 2001
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"Look what I'm surviving" is a kind of achievement, albeit the kind that doesn't actually require doing anything beyond continuing to exist. You have a bunch of people who basically are at the same point, not even because of that commonly-decried "everybody's a winner" nonsense, but because as teenagers and early twenty-somethings, they simply haven't had time to accomplish much of anything.

When everybody's neutrally buoyant, the only way to one-up each other is by comparing who's got the most weight tied to him.

That's probably why you see a resurgence of that among the elderly, and always have. Not that age doesn't bring things to complain about, but after you've already pretty much accomplished all you're going to, and everybody's pretty much equal down at the Senior Center, there's really no way to establish status beyond how much bowel discomfort you're weathering at any given time. If you're keeping up with people who can be made to feel bad for you, then you're technically doing sort of better than they are. Kind of.
 

gibbz

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May 31, 2007
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And parents always let their kids win at Candyland too... ughhh.

Not only do we not let kids fail, we also don't let them succeed... and if they do succeed we tell them not to make a fuss about it.
I hate this mentality. Failure is a fact of life and to shelter your child from it only sets them up to fail in life. I certainly will teach my kids the mentality "Ok, you effed that up. You know what went wrong so fix it next time.

I do think there is a difference between letting your child celebrate their accomplishments and having them go out of their way to rub it in people's faces.

Nobody seems to know what a real achievement these days. Graduating from kindergarten? Graduating from 2nd grade? Seriously? Complete with cap and gown plus pictures in addition to regular school pictures.

You passed.. good for you.. now get ready for the next school year. :rolleyes:
+1. Like the sports leagues that don't keep score. i think we should celebrate when kids succeed in life, but not when the reasoning is to shelter them from feeling bad. I think the feeling of failure is instrumental in driving success. To rob them of that feeling is wrong in my opinion.
 

Thomas Veil

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Feb 14, 2004
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I think this is way too complicated a subject to pin on just one thing. I don't, however, think humility or bragging has anything to do with it.

No other culture in the world places as much importance on buying and having things as ours does. The end result is that often if we don't have what "everyone else" has (or something even better), we're unhappy. Our lives "suck".

Then too there's the whole political culture, nourished by the media, in which everyone not only yells and blames "the other side" for everything, but some popular hosts actually invent fictitious things to get mad about. Further than that I won't go, because as the OP mentioned, we could easily derail this topic, and that subject is being discussed in another thread anyway.

Finally, there are the things that you actually should be unhappy about. People way above us, both politically and economically, make decisions that leave us with fewer and fewer jobs and play financial games with money which have ruinous effects on our lives. To that end, one way to stop being unhappy is to start (or keep) electing people who will actually represent us, rather than worshipping at the altar of The Almighty Dollar.

And finally, when we're talking about teenage kids...they were always sullen. It's largely what happens at that age. 'Twas ever thus.
 

TuffLuffJimmy

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Apr 6, 2007
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You may have come to this conclusion independently, but I just attended a lecture on this very subject, SilentPanda. :)

From what I remember:
Our society is based on stress and is fairly competitive. Therefore, people are often trying to out stress each other.
"Dude, I've got two essays due tomorrow and I don't get home from practice tonight until 11, so I'll be up until four in the morning finishing this stuff. I probably won't get to sleep!"
"Yeah well, I have to finish my dissertation tonight and I haven't started it!"

I guess this is sort of our society's way of boasting, without seeming boastful.
 

SilentPanda

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Original poster
Oct 8, 2002
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Wait a second. So am I, or am I not, the undisputed champion of Candyland? :mad:
Everybody wins at Candyland because when one person conquers the gum drop mountain, everybody gets candy.

I hate this mentality. Failure is a fact of life and to shelter your child from it only sets them up to fail in life. I certainly will teach my kids the mentality "Ok, you effed that up. You know what went wrong so fix it next time.

I do think there is a difference between letting your child celebrate their accomplishments and having them go out of their way to rub it in people's faces.
I know a family with 4 boys and they only let them play games where nobody can lose. It's sickening. They also don't have a lot of games... :p

It just seems more socially acceptable to be able to rub defeats in peoples faces but not accomplishment... seems weird to me. Not saying either should be...
 

barkomatic

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Aug 8, 2008
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I actually attended a workshop about this a few months ago. The title was "How to Brag effectively". In this workshop, we discussed how people are socialized to be humble and not highlight their acheivements--even when they are in job interviews or up for a promotion. Obviously, this is very counter-productive.

I think its entirely appropriate to brag (aka highlight your achievements) when it is appropriate to do so. What's annoying is how many people are offended by this no matter what the circumstances. Sure, its rude to discuss your high salary and lofty position with your friend who is making minimum wage--that's asinine. However, pointing out to your boss what you have achieved over the past year and how that added value is entirely appropriate.
 

NT1440

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May 18, 2008
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The anonymity of the internet provides a safe haven for people to outlet their negative emotions, thats the only reason you see so much of it on it. It feels safer than having to "whine" to your friends.
 

Gelfin

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Sep 18, 2001
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From a game theory perspective, Candyland is a disaster long before you let people win. The player himself has no influence over the outcome of the game, so "winning" carries no significance. The best you can say about it is that it teaches kids the idea of a game, of working within a constrained ruleset, before dumping the somewhat heavier idea of "strategy" on them. Taken in this light, letting kids win seriously dilutes the message. The only choice you can make that influences the outcome of the game is the choice not to play by the rules.
 

Zombie Acorn

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Feb 2, 2009
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Monopoly is probably the best kids game I remember. Some of the kids would be nice and let you trade your way out if you landed on their hotels... not me. :D
 

obeygiant

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Jan 14, 2002
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From a game theory perspective, Candyland is a disaster long before you let people win. The player himself has no influence over the outcome of the game, so "winning" carries no significance. The best you can say about it is that it teaches kids the idea of a game, of working within a constrained ruleset, before dumping the somewhat heavier idea of "strategy" on them. Taken in this light, letting kids win seriously dilutes the message. The only choice you can make that influences the outcome of the game is the choice not to play by the rules.
You play Candyland?

I thought you preferred Shoots and Ladders.


lol