Success vs. Kindness: What Do Teens Value More?

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Winning a baseball game and acing a history test are super satisfying. But should the desire for success trump the ability to be kind to others? We'd say no, which makes this recent study published in the Boston Globe a bit disappointing. According to the research by Harvard Graduate School of Education, more teens value achievement over compassion.

They surveyed 10,000 middle and high school students from 33 schools across the nation about which value is most important: achievement, happiness, or compassion. In the results, nearly 50 percent chose success as what they valued most, while only around 20 percent picked caring for others. Thirty percent chose happiness. In other words, half of teens would prefer reaching their own achievements, instead of helping others achieve theirs.

Rick Weissbourd, who conducted the survey, says, "Kids do care, but this caring is subordinate to achievement and personal happiness. It gets buried by the overwhelming pressure kids feel to succeed.”

Interestingly, the survey also says that most teens believe their parents value academics over the other aspects. Does this mean parents are to blame for kids being focused on themselves? Not necessarily, but it's important to set a good example. After all, teens mirror your behavior more than you think.

Discussing the findings, Weissbourd told the Boston Globe,

If kids are caring, they can tune into other people and will have better relationships their whole lives. They’ll be better parents, friends, and spouses and will likely be happier due to these stronger relationships.

Although the study gives the impression teens don't care much about others, we'd definitely disagree! Just look at the amazing teenagers featured in Choices magazine's "Inspired Like You" section. For example, Grace is helping provide eyeglasses to teens in need, and Julien, is raising money for charity, just $2 at a time.

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