Is Rewarding Mediocrity Stunting Your Child's Growth

Is Rewarding Mediocrity Stunting Your Child's Growth

Participation trophies may cause more harm than good.

There was a time when losing became motivation for winning. Losing a team sport makes the team practice harder.

Losing made each individual want to be better than their last effort. Losing made the coaches want to devise new strategies to implement. And although it was not a guarantee for success, it made you feel better the next time out when you won the game. A comeback victory makes everyone involved feel good. Even the parents, fans and supporters of the team felt proud because they'd become emotionally vested in the team.

The same things can be said about awards day at the end of the school year.

The students would gather in the auditorium and those students who had done what they were supposed to do all year where honored with certificates and awards. There was an award for "High Honors", "Honors", "Perfect Attendance", "Dean's List" and "Principal's Award" and depending on the level of the school there may have been a few other acknowledgements. BUT, if you left that auditorium with nothing, there a chance you were not surprised because bad grades and performance does not sneak up on you. You knew going into the ceremony how your grades were. In fact, you knew all year that this day was coming and had ample time to plan for it and get your grades on the right track, but for whatever reason you chose not to.

For some students walking out empty handed was a wake-up call. The next school year you studied a little harder, you asked for additional assistance, you asked those friends who earned award the year prior for a little help and you made things happen. The next award ceremony rolls around and maybe you don’t get "high honors" but you are able to make "honors", or maybe you came extreme close to honors and got dean's list recognition for most improved performance. Nevertheless, you leave that year with your head held high because you knew you put in the work and got the recognition you deserved.

Somehow, some way, things took a wrong turn. I don't know this to be true, but it would seem that a group of parents, whom maybe, didn't know how to handle their child being hurt or sad complained, and said everyone should get a trophy. And behold, events started giving out participation trophies. Every child that played in the game walks away with a trophy for simply trying. The same concept spilled into the school systems and there were awards and certificates given to cover just about every aspect of things to insure every child got something on awards day. I know of a school that give a "Good Student" award to children who show up to class and turn in their homework. This may seem like a great thing for the moment, but I don't think people considered the long term affects this could have on a person still developing social skills. Awarding students and players for doing what they are expected to do does not prepare them to become more or extraordinary. Instead we stunt their development by confusing them into thinking they ae doing just as great as the person who work, studied or played harder, so they start to feel entitled. What it also fails to explain is how come the opportunities offered in the end to those other students are not the same.

Learning these simple lessons in failure, loss or rejection are important for the development of a child or teen. It helps them to learn and understand a valuable lesson. That not everyone wins every time and you can't get what you want every time. According to F. Diane Barth of Psychology Today, we are programmed to be entitled at an early stage of life, but we are also programmed to gradually develop the capacity to recognize that other people have needs. This growth cannot be forced before a child has the internal ability to understand; but we can all gradually learn, through experiences with our parents and other people who love and care about us, to manage our needs to be special. The definition of entitlement is: the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something (such as special privileges). A sense of entitlement complex is linked with narcissism and borderline personality disorder.

15 Signs You Have a Sense of Entitlement

The people who didn't learn those simple lessons as a child often develop a sense of entitlement. They may find it hard to develop meaningful relationship and friendships because they can’t deal with rejection of any kind. They can become very controlling because they are accustomed to things happening a certain way and they are not willing to bend. These same people may throw tantrums or even worse cause others harm when they are embarrassed publicly simply because they never learned how to process those emotions as a child. We have parents, teacher, coaches and loved ones that help to guide us through those emotions at a young age. Maybe participation trophies are hurting more than helping.

Feel free to email me your thoughts or leave them in the comments section, and as always...

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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there is always that "cool parent"

No matter if it is mom, dad, uncle or aunt, there is always that one adult that thinks they are cooler than they are... just let them be because lets be honest they are not going to change.

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It took me 4 years...

and I don't know why.

4 is the magic number. I knew my best friend for 4 years before we even became friends. We were best friends for 4 long years, before we weren't. And lastly, it has been 4 years since we stopped being friends and I wonder what happened. 4 is the magic number and I don't know why. 

What's weird about friendship, you just one day decide that you like someone and that you get along and then you start hanging out and doing things together. It's just this pull between two people that is sort of unexplainable. It's a beautiful mystery. It took us all of 4 years to even like each other. Our friendship was far from instant and far from easy, but when it was good, it was unparalleled. Here's to 4 years of knowing each other, but not being friends quite yet. 

In the 4 years of friendship that we had, I can truly say, God couldn't have given me a better friend. We made cheesy dances to Justin Bieber music. We spent summers on the football field being a part of something we both loved. We seemed to make Free Pie Wednesday at' OCharley's a weekly event. We watched Christmas movies year round. We had crushes on far too many new boys, but we could never seem to shake the old ones. We'd spend days and nights crying over them and begging the other for advice, which we never ran short of because we were so opinionated. We thought we knew everything. We planned our lives and just knew, that friendship would last forever. Here's to 4 years of being the best of friends. 

The last 4 years though, they've been different. These years have been filled with questions. Sure, that life we planned turned out way different. At least for me. We graduated High School and instead of attending college together and staying as close as the previous 4, we drifted far apart. And sure, I blame myself. The little pink (+) on the end of a stick wasn't so little to our friendship. The little diamond ring he put on my finger, wasn't so little to our friendship. The little round belly that began to grow on me wasn't so little to our friendship. They were all life changing, yes, but I never knew they would do this to our friendship. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change my life now, but man would I have put in more effort then. Here's to the last 4 years, they've hurt. 

On the topic of 4, here's the 4 things I have decided to say now...

One- Thank you. Thank you for being the best friend I have ever had. You knew me. You saw every single part of me and decided to still be a friend to me. I had so many flaws and being a friend wasn't my best attribute, but you were there for it, you knew it, and you stayed true for a long time. 

Two- I see the effort you made. You did things for me while I was pregnant. I just think it was too much for you too soon. It was for me too. So, I get it. I don't fault you. While I say I understand, I do sometimes wrestle with what exactly was the moment that you decided to be done. I never had that moment, so I wonder if it came for you.

Three- I wonder if you hurt over it, because I do. I have seen your new friends (and some old friends) for 4 years. I have seen them have the same big life changes that I had. The difference is, you're seeing them through it. You are even part of it. In their weddings, posting about their kids, loving them in their season. Why was mine so different? 

Lastly, Four- This one is the hardest, but I'll be better for it... I'm sorry. I'm sorry if it was my fault. If I did or said something that pushed us apart, I am sorry. Genuinely. I think that may be noticed just based on the fact that 4 years later, I am still saying it.  

It took me 4 years to write this. For some reason, after having my daughter, my second child that you haven't been able to know, I find myself hurting more. I believe it's because when I look at her, I want her to have a full life that is full of friendship and full of what we had. She deserves that. I hope she has that. It took me 4 years to write this, and truly it has taken me 4 years to heal. In the 4th week of my 4th and final semester of college, a professor challenged me to write something vulnerable and real and this is it. So, here's to the magic number 4, you have shaped me, made me, and maybe one day, this story about 4 will hurt a little less. 

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