Thank you for some important ideas here. Tying one’s self-worth to one’s work, especially in a competitive field, is a zero-sum game which makes us losers when we retire, if we survive that far.
The characterization of children, however, is romantic and false. Kids need to learn persistence. They do stuff because they like it, and it is when the going gets tough that they leave off. The ego-centric life of children insulates them from what others truly think of them, and from the realities that hard work and discipline are necessary to get from others the praise your mother gives you gratis.
Tex Sample has argued in U.S. Lifestyles and Mainline Churches that America has three broad cultures, only casually related to politics, that of Left, Right, and Middle. The Cultural Left values personal independence above all, and judges relationships and opportunities from that perspective; the Cultural Right values relationships and loyalty and judges opportunities and duties from that perspective; but the Cultural Middle judges vocation (work/employment) as the highest duty and finds identity here. Your essay is addressed to this great American Middle.