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Postcards from Scotland

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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 21/11/2011

One of the things that buoys me up and keeps me going is getting feedback from people when I give talks. I don't mean feedback on whether I have spoken well but on what I have been talking about.

On Saturday I gave a talk to a fairly large group of parents in the West of Scotland. I only had twenty minutes so decided to say something about the dangers of attempting to artificially boost self-esteem, different parenting styles and something about the recent UNICEF study on the materialism of British parents and how this is undermining our youngsters' well-being. 

I could see that some of my argument was somewhat challenging for a few of the parents there but the vast majority nodded knowingly throughout my talk.

At the end three young mothers came up to tell me how much they agreed with me. Indeed they said that they had been discussing relevant issues in the car that very morning. The primary school their kids attended were awarding too many certificates for nothing they told me. The previous day one of their sons had returned home with a certificate for being 'a good listener'. But they disliked this saying that this should be expected of pupils and was giving out the wrong message. I couldn't agree more. It also encourages youngsters to believe they should only do the right thing to get external validation. That is not a positive message for life as it erodes intrinsic motivation. 

Then I was approached by a girl of about seventeen from eastern Europe. She wanted to write my name and website address on a piece of paper as she was so taken by what I had to say. She moved here seven years ago and maintains that her parents behave quite differently from those of her friends. By this she meant that her parents were more focussed on building family relationships and her development much more than they were in buying her things.

As well as general nods of agreement and short words of thanks from parents and teachers present one senior member of the education authority said something which was music to my ears: 'I so enjoyed your presentation' she said 'and don't mean to be rude but I did sit there thinking "this is so obvious, why didn't I think of that".'

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