After learning from the best (the Babywise series), I’ve always been of the assumption that not every child should get a trophy. But after living with this first-hand, I’ve started to question my assumption.
I’m sure we’ve all seen or heard of it. Today’s sporting events just aren’t like they used to be. When kids are involved, either the games aren’t scored or every child is given a trophy, no matter how well they do. Yet for as long as I can remember, I’ve held the belief that this idea of every child getting a trophy isn’t good for our kids. When our kids put in great effort and work hard, they should be rewarded. I don’t believe a child should be rewarded for putting in minimal effort or for just showing up. This is how our world seems to be operating these days. It seems as if everyone is afraid to tarnish our children’s fragile egos.
I also believe that by giving every child a trophy, it completely robs the trophy of any value. It makes the trophy practically worthless. Plus, it’s possible that kids will lose all motivation to do well. Kids are smart. If they realize that the kid sitting on the sidelines will earn the same recognition as the child who works hard, then what good is it to work hard?
Now, if we are doing our job as parents, we should teach our kids that the reward is in doing a good job. In the case of sports, when you take one for the team and run harder than anybody else, your efforts will get noticed. But what about these trophies?
Let me back up a minute and explain why I bring this up. My kids have started flag football this season, and with William being more cerebral than athletic, this is our first real foray into kids’ sports. Well, today was the big kickoff event for the season. After William’s coach explained the rules of the game, he mentioned to us all that we might see other coaches handing out medals but that he wouldn’t be. The organization encourages coaches to hand out one medal after every game, which I assume would go to the kid who played his hardest. Well, our coach has decided to do it differently. Rather than handing them out after every game, he said he would hold onto them, and at the end of the season, we would have a celebration where every child would receive a medal.
After watching the kids practice and play, there’s a part of me that can see why he does this. There are some kids (like the coaches’ kids) who are clearly more experienced and talented than the rest of them. William, who was doing math problems in his head on the way there, would be outrun by one or two of those kids any day of the week. But my issue with trophies and medals has nothing to do with experience or talent. It has to do with effort.
If a child shows great determination and comes running onto the field and scores five touchdowns, then perhaps his effort should be rewarded. If a child shows great improvement in an area where he has struggled previously, then he should probably receive a medal. And I like the idea of kids getting recognized for their effort on the day of the game, and when nobody else is being recognized. Being rewarded by a coach (someone other than mom or dad) like this, on a day when only he is being recognized, would certainly bring a smile to William’s face. I’m not sure his smile would be as big when he receives the medal at the same time as all the other kids.
But then again, the mama bear in me does want to protect William’s self esteem. What if he’s staring off into space doing math problems in his head while the receiver runs right by him? What if he’s just not as capable as the other kids? What if his sensory issues get in the way of his ability to play?
What do you think? Should every child get a trophy?