“Participation trophies” are one of the main causes of our Millennial generation’s worst qualities.

Okay, so you completed a season of soccer, you participated in a dance recital, and you were given a trophy. But what did you do? Children are being rewarded for their efforts, which in itself is important, however, this does not mean that every child deserves a gold trophy. You played soccer and won a trophy- but did you win any games? You get the same trophy as every kid on the team, but did you make a single goal? Children should be praised for the efforts. This is an important part of their psychological development. However, it can be detrimental to their development as well.

This summer, Pittsburgh Steelers James Harrison took away the trophy his son won for participating in a sport. He says that he is proud of them and will always support them, but he does not feel that they deserve a trophy simply for participating. He wrote on Instagram: “While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I'm sorry I'm not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I'm not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best...cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better...not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut u up and keep you happy.” I love that this athlete made an example of his son’s experience in the public eye, hopefully this sparks coaches’ and parents’ attention to the injustice being done to their children, making them think that they deserve to be called a ‘winner’ simply because they tried.

The real world will prove this impractical.

Giving kids participation trophies takes away their desire to put in effort because they know, regardless, they will be rewarded for it. It has been proven in psychology that when a human or animal is repeatedly rewarded or ‘reinforced’ for a desired behavior, that when the reward is taken away they will no longer put in said effort. Our generation is being taught that unless trophies and awards are promised at the end, nothing is worth putting in full effort.

Giving trophies to the whole team also leads children to believe that they are already at their best ability, and that they don’t need to improve. To a child, especially a young child playing a sport, the rationale is that if everyone receives the same trophy, everyone must be playing at the same level. They need to learn that someone will always be better than them; they’ve got to be competitive in order to truly succeed.

If children put effort into an activity because they expect to be rewarded based purely on efforts and not at all on accomplishments, they will tend to give up when their efforts are not reinforced. In their future adult lives, as some members of this generation is finding already, efforts are rarely recognized unless they’ve produced some sort of result or accomplishment.

Our generation is known for being lazy, narcissistic, and antisocial. We have grown up on technology that does it all for us and parents that don’t push us to be adults. We have been groomed to believe that any effort is a winning effort, when in reality there are winners and there are in fact losers. We have grown up attached to our mobile devices, limiting substantial social interacting and understanding of others. The tendencies of our generation will lead our world to a halt as it becomes us who run the country. We are teaching our kids to be in it for the trophy, to be vain, and to give up when their efforts don’t win. They are not learning the values and skills they will need in their adult lives- to be driven, humble, and competitive. At this pace, they will not What do we need to do? Stop giving kids trophies.