The Cycle | October 09, 2012
>>> what can we do to make sure the daughter gets into the school.
>> multilingual exposure.
>> note to self, must teach daughter french. last year i moved to new york from a little town in virginia where i lived most of my life, and it sounds like a total culture shock. overall transition has been relatively smooth except in one area, parenting. now, you'd think being a small town virginia parent would not be that different from a big city parent, but suddenly for me the parenting world is bewildering. watching the other parents stack their 4-year-olds calendars with play dates and standardized test tutoring so they can go to the right kindergarten, i felt like a slacker. am i failing my child? is she already behind? have i doomed her to a life of misery because i couldn't get here in the right chess club ? help. here with answers i hope is dr. madeline levine , a clinical psychologist and author whose first book "the price of privilege" was a run-away best seller . in her new best seller she argues that our typical measures of success like good grades and high s.a.t. scores are failing our children. thank you for joining us.
>> my pleasure.
>> first of all, let's go straight to the title of the book, the easiest measures of success are grades, s.a.t. scores later in life, high-paying jobs. what is authentic success.
>> so, the operate word you used is easiest, so we like them because they're easy to measure. authentic success has, i would say, three components. it is internally felt, it's internally driven, it's resilient and it follows its own path. most of us know that success is not a straight line . that we wiggle and have stops and starts that lead us ultimately to success. i heard the intro, and i was laughing about, you know, are you a good parent because you're worried about your 3 or 4-year-old getting into the right preschool? it is such a misconception that that's what success is. right preschool, right high school , right college, goadman sacks, happy life . it just doesn't work that way.
>> well, to that point how do we balance these competing desires to have a kid who is disciplined, successful, and having a kid who is well adjusted and not totally stressed out? how do we strike that balance?
>> you know, it's not an either/or proposition, and i think it depends a lot on what your definition of "successful" is. i would argue that academic measures are a single measure and an important measure of success. it's not that i don't believe we should hold kids to high standards . all the research says that's a good thing to do. but i think we're so incredibly busy holding kids to high standards we've become like ceos. we're kind of looking at the bottom line , aat tt the end of your daughter's preschool interview or semester what the gpa is. that tells you really very little about how somebody will feel internally about their life. success is always kind of an internally felt thing. we know that there are people who write best-selling books that feel lousy. there are people with their own television shows that feel lousy.
>> what are you talking about? that never happens. i don't know anybody like that.
>> we feel great.
>> off that of idea, i have two kids. as a parent you kind of have this stock market thing going on in your head. the ceo, you're ticking in every day, every hour, is my kid doing better? when you do that, you get that short-term mindset to get aaway. it's that achievement-based mindset. how do we get into a mindset that takes that broader, long-term approach so we can see the longer term victories developing character like being good at tennis, writing a book, these sort of things.
>> the paradigm in my head is how we treat our toddlers. that toddler takes a couple of steps and falls down. you say get up again, and they take a couple more steps and fall down again. it's like, get up. we would never think of saying, oh, what a failure that child is. you're going to be flipping burgers for the rest of your life if you keep falling down, right? we sort of just know that that child will have to fall -- i know there are some young children in the group there. that young child will have to fall down 100 to 1,000 times before they get it right. so i think we need a much greater tolerance for letting our kids make mistakes. what's overparenting? it's doing what your kid already do and what technical do and confusing what your needs are just like you opened up with saying, am i a good enough parent? that's about parent peer pressure.
>> what parent doesn't do that?
>> every parent is compared to other parents.
>> no, that's not true. i mean, there are parents, because listen, here's the reality of it. the risk of maintaining this paradigm earlier is better, moore is better, push your kids, best schools. the risk of that has become so great that the world's organization says about 1 out of every 4 kids is suffering from full-blown anxiety and depression, 17% rate of cuts at our ivy league schools of self-mutilation. 25% of kids are substance abuse abuse abusers. what do they rate as the greatest -- excuse me.
>> we said wow.
>> yeah, it is. it should be wow. because that's the real issue. you know, if we -- if i ended up being here saying to you, yeah, it's not such a great way to raise kids but they're turning out so well, that's one thing. it's not such a great way to raise kids because we squeezed out all the soft skills, getting along with people, being creative, knowing how to manage, being resilient. there's no time for it your 4-year-old is prepping for a preschool or your college kid has four hours of homework and tutors and all kinds of stuff. there's no time for the things that we know are associated with health.
>> all right.
>> i do think parents have a choice, and it's a hard choice and it does take courage. that's to say, this isn't working. my kid is not do four hours of homework and getting six hours of sleep because we know the health benefits are so serious.
>> all right, dr. levine, thanks so much.
>>> up next, a new segment inspired by our own steve kornacki. big bird worse than wall street ? so, that happened.