I’m not sure when it happened but it seems every child gets a participation trophy now days. When I was a kid you had to earn a trophy. If you where involved in a “touchy feely” group you may get a ribbon. Now days it’s seems you get a trophy for participating and if your lucky a bigger trophy for doing better than just showing up.
What does this tells our Kids
The Cub Scout pack I’m a leader with, has been giving participation trophies for Pine Wood derby races. It’s interesting to watch the look on the kids faces when they get a trophy they didn’t earn. Many of these boys take the trophy, look at it and hand it to their parents to carry. A few boys take it and hold on to it like it’s something special.
It’s the boys that think the trophy is something special, I worry about. When you give someone something for participating, you are rewarding them for doing the bare amount of work required work. You are teaching them that just showing up gets you a trophy. This does nothing to teach our children what the real world is about.
The Real World
I’ve never worked a job that have raises or promotions for just showing up to work. Granted, I’d love it if I had. The truth is, if you want to get ahead in the world you must work hard, or at least harder than those you work with. No employer wants a person that doesn’t earn them money. It would be bad business to lose money on your employees. It’s even worse when the employees expect bonuses and promotions for just showing up for work. Better yet a living wage for standing around looking at their phone without even being able to do their job.
I’m not going to say the participation trophies are the main cause of many of the whining and crying that the younger generations have become accustom to. However, I will admit it hasn’t helped their attitude. A person can’t spent his entire life getting rewarded for things that are average and not expect the same thing as they get older. The worst part is once they realize you don’t get rewards for just doing your job they get mad. Some of these people deal with it and work harder. Others, think they are getting mistreated and quit their job, and go from job to job never getting what they truly think they deserve. The problem with this kind of attitude is that it rubs people wrong and causes problems for more than just those who are undeserving.
How to Fix This
As parents we need to stop encouraging the rewards for participation. Being a parent myself I know that’s hard. You want to make your child feel good. However, a parents job is teach your child to become an adult. It’s not to protect your child from getting their feelings hurt. When your kid doesn’t make first encourage them to do better next time. Always explain to them that in life their will be others better than they are. The way I try to raise my children is that as long as they did their best I’m proud of them. Next time they will do better because they want to do better for themselves. We can’t make them afraid to fail, but we can’t reward them for nothing. It’s hard being a parent, participation trophies don’t really make it any easier.