My son played on a soccer team last season. Their team did great even though most of them were first-timers. They made it to the Playoffs, and their opponent was a very experienced team who had been playing together for a few seasons already. As the game went on, emotions ran high on both sides. The players on the field gave it their all. They left their hearts on the field. The game went into double overtime and finally ended with a win for the opposing team. They won by 1 point! The players on my son’s team, including my son, either cried or fought back tears. This was so important to me to see because what it showed me was that they all gave everything they had to attain a victory that was important to them. For that time they played as one unit on the field. They were brothers (and sisters) for that time on the field.
When it came time for the teams who had made the playoffs to get their trophies and awards, my son’s team was awarded the 2nd place medals. Only the first place team got the trophy. At the time my heart ached for my son who was still processing the loss. In his mind, if he played his hardest, he would win AND get a trophy just like the other team. The fact of the matter is the other team was more experienced, and in the end, earned the victory.
I only saw the top 2 teams in the playoffs earn any award for playing. I heard some parents grumble that their children should have received awards for playing on the teams during the season. Here’s why their children didn’t need to receive awards:
1-I understand you feel it builds confidence in your child, but it also builds a sense of entitlement to things your child has not earned.
2-Now your child has a tangible goal to say ok, if I study harder, practice more, build up stamina, etc. Then I can attain that goal too.
3-The victory once they do attain that goal will be appreciated more than if they were just handed an award to pacify them.
4-The world will NOT give your child anything they have not earned. While you don’t have to teach them that the world is hard, you do have to teach them to be realistic in a world where even if they deserve it, sometimes they won’t receive it.
5-This deprives your child of getting the full satisfaction of earning something they have truly worked hard and given their all for.
6-This teaches your child that anything is attainable if they put the work in.
7-This teaches your child to hand down the lesson to their children that they won’t have to work hard to earn anything.
As for my children, I don’t want them to receive any participation award they have not earned. They won’t understand the true value of what it takes to grind and to reap the benefits of that grinding. Our kids have to know that as minorities, the deck is already stacked against them. Handouts come at a cost and I want my kids to be able to stand on their own two feet and proudly say they earned what they have received.
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