There was an interesting column in The Dallas Morning News last week that was written by a teacher, Jay Riven. He wrote about how troubling it is that children are given trophies at the end of a losing season in soccer or baseball. He mentioned how many trophies his young daughter had just for participating in sports and wondered if the practice of giving kids trophies was a good idea.
That reminded me of when our kids were young and playing soccer. Our son’s team was playing a final season game that would determine if they would advance to the finals and they lost. It was a tough moment for all the kids who had played hard and given their best, and we were all a little sad for them. At the picnic following the game, the coach proceeded to give the boys each a trophy, which at first I thought was a nice gesture. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if it really was.
A trophy, as Riven pointed out in his article, should be earned by winning, not given as a consolation prize. Sure kids are going to be disappointed when they lose, and a good coach can take some time to praise them for giving a good effort, but that should be it. The trophy should be reserved for those special moments of achievement. Then it will mean more.
Riven calls that “the triumph of achievement.”
Our society today seems so focused on building a child’s self esteem, some of us have forgotten that losing a game or not getting a trophy is all part of the system. If we want that trophy, maybe we try harder next season and earn it. If we get a poor grade on a class assignment, maybe we try harder for the A next time.
Trophies and passing grades and high praise should not be automatic, they should come in small doses and when well earned. If a child is always rewarded for everything they do, how are they challenged to do better?
What do you think? I’d love to get your opinion.