Is Rewarding Mediocrity Stunting Your Child's Growth

Is Rewarding Mediocrity Stunting Your Child's Growth

Participation trophies may cause more harm than good.
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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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The Thank You My Dad Deserves

While our moms are always the heroes, our dads deserve some credit, too.
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Dear Dad,

You’ve gone a really long time without being thanked. I'm not talking about thanks for things like opening the Gatorade bottle I couldn't or checking my tires when my car’s maintenance light is flashing, but rather the thanks I owe you for shaping me into the person I am today.

Thank you for teaching me what I deserve and for not letting me settle for anything less.

While the whole world was telling me I wasn’t good enough, you were there to tell me I was. Whether this was with boys, a friend, or anything else, you always built my confidence to a place I couldn’t build it to on my own. You showed me what my great qualities were and helped me feel unique. But most of all, you never let me settle for anything less than what I deserved, even when I wanted to. Without you, I wouldn’t be nearly as ambitious, outgoing or strong.

Thank you for giving me someone to make proud.

It’s hard to work hard when it’s just for myself, but so easy when it’s for you. All through school, nothing made me happier than getting a good grade back because I knew I got to come home and tell you. With everything I do, you give me a purpose.

SEE ALSO: 20 Things You Say When Calling Your Dad On The Phone

Thank you for showing me what selflessness looks like.

You are the prime example of what putting your family first looks like. If me wanting something means that you can’t get what you want, you’ll always sacrifice. From wearing the same t-shirts you’ve had since I was in elementary school so I could buy the new clothes I wanted, to not going out with your friends so you could come to my shows, you never made a decision without your family at the forefront of your mind. If there is one quality you have that I look up to you for the most, it’s your ability to completely put your needs aside and focus entirely on the wants of others.

Thank you for being the voice in the back of my head that shows me wrong from right.

Even though many of your dad-isms like “always wear a seatbelt” easily get old, whenever I’m in a situation and can’t decide if what I’m doing is right or wrong, I always can hear you in the back of my head pointing me in the right direction. While I may not boost your ego often enough by telling you you’re always right, you are.

Thank you for being real with me when nobody else will.

Being your child hasn’t always been full of happiness and encouragement, but that’s what makes you such an integral part of my life. Rather than sugarcoating things and always telling me I was the perfect child, you called me out when I was wrong. But what separates you from other dads is that instead of just knocking me down, you helped me improve. You helped me figure out my faults and stood by me every step of the way as I worked to fix them.

Most of all, thank you for showing me what a great man looks like.

I know that marriage may seem very far down the road, but I just want you to know that whoever the guy I marry is, I know he’ll be right because I have an amazing guy to compare him to. I know you’re not perfect (nobody is), but you’ve raised me in a such a way that I couldn’t imagine my kids being raised any differently. Finding a guy with your heart, drive, and generosity will be tough, but I know it will be worth it.


Dad, you’re more than just my parent, but my best friend. You’re there for me like nobody else is and I couldn’t imagine being where I am now without you.

Love you forever,

Your little girl

Cover Image Credit: Caity Callan

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It's Only November, DO NOT Cue The Christmas Music

"Why are people so quick to switch gears from October 31... to November 1st?"

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As I write this article it is early November. Crazy how we are already into November. For those of you who have two different personalities from Halloween to November 1, this is for you. Do not cue Christmas music in early November.

November is a really beautiful month if you take the time to appreciate it. Leaves continue to change, the temperature starts to drop, which means more coffee and hot chocolate! The NJEA convention is in early November, if you're an educator, future one, or if you're a current student, you are off these days, and of course, everyone is off for Thanksgiving. A time to celebrate what we are thankful for with our friends and family. Tables full of hot soups to warm our chilly bodies, turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet cranberry sauce, an array of pies and desserts, you name it.

So why are people so quick to switch gears from October 31, a time to dress up, trick or treat and attend Halloween parties, to November 1st, a time that has become all about Black Friday and Christmas? We've lost the meaning of Thanksgiving. In my opinion, stores should not be open on Thanksgiving Day. As mentioned it's a day to spend with family. You can shop for those best deals and stand in line for hours the following day and days leading up to Christmas.

We live in a time where everyone is busy with their own lives and family, and it's difficult to get together with everyone's schedules. So on Thanksgiving, it's the perfect time to surround yourself with family and friends, enjoying a meal together, counting your blessings, showing gratitude and appreciation, and catching up on everyone's lives. Truly a day of Thanksgiving!

So I encourage all of you to prepare for Thanksgiving and focus on family, friends, and gratitude. Next time someone talks about Black Friday or Christmas before Thanksgiving, stand your ground, make your voice and the holiday of Thanksgiving be heard.

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