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Respected Contributor
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Registered: ‎04-20-2012

Giving kids trophies for just showing up

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/steelers/2015/08/17/james-harrison-kids-trophies-entitlemen...

 

You can work your hardest, try your best, expend every ounce of energy you have and sometimes things just don't work out the way you hoped or imagined. That's just the way things go.

 

Yet somewhere along the way, someone had the misguided notion that kids should live in a la-la land where everything is perfect, there are no hardships or heartbreaks, and you get a shiny trophy or a pretty blue ribbon just for being you.

 

There's time enough to get acquainted with reality, the thinking goes. In the meantime, children should be praised and encouraged, reminded at every turn how wonderful they are.

 

No wonder study after study has shown that millennials, the first of the trophy generations, are stressed out and depressed. They were sold a bill of goods when they were kids, and discovering that the harsh realities of life apply to them, too, had to have been like a punch to the gut.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison may be the last person you want to take life lessons from, given his history of violence on and off the field. But his announcement Sunday that he was giving back his 8- and 6-year-old son's "participation" trophies because they hadn't earned them was dead on, and that message shouldn't be discounted simply because he was the one delivering it.

 

"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," Harrison said in a post on Instagram. "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."

 

Amen.

 

Everybody-gets-a-trophy proponents say children should be rewarded for their efforts, that the prizes give kids incentive to always try their best and persevere. But isn't that what the orange slices and cookies are for? By handing out trophies and medals at every turn, it actually sends the opposite message, essentially telling kids it's enough just to show up.


USA TODAY HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Kurt Warner tweets support for James Harrison's stance on participation trophies

Why should a kid strive to improve or put in the extra effort when he or she is treated no differently than the kid who sits in the outfield picking dandelions? Or, as NFL MVP Kurt Warner said on Twitter on Monday, "They don't let kids pass classes 4 just showing up!"

 

"The whole idea is to protect that kid and, ultimately, it’s a huge disservice. What kids need is skill-building. Help them do what they’re doing and do it better," said Ashley Merryman, co-author of Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing.

 

"The benefit of competition isn’t actually winning. The benefit is improving," Merryman added. "When you're constantly giving a kid a trophy for everything they’re doing, you're saying, 'I don’t care about improvement. I don't care that you're learning from your mistakes. All we expect is that you’re always a winner.' "


Get all the latest news on the Pittsburgh Steelers! Check out USA TODAY Sports' SteelersWire!

 

And if you've taken a peek at any 9-year-old's room recently, you'll see how much those precious trophies and ribbons really mean. Most are either coated in dust or buried in the back of a closet.

 

If we're honest with ourselves, the trophies, ribbons and medals we hand out so willingly are more about us than the children getting them. It's affirmation that our kids are as wonderful as we think they are. It's also a way to fool ourselves into thinking that we're sheltering them, at least temporarily, from the cold, cruel world.

 

But real life is hard, and no amount of trophies can shield kids from the disappointments and challenges they'll eventually face.

 

"I like kids. I want them to be happy and do well," said Merryman, who has mentored Olympic athletes. "But I'd much rather have a 6-year-old cry because he didn’t get a medal than have a 26-year-old lose it because they realized they weren’t as special as they thought they were."

 

Learning the true values of hard work, perseverance and resilience, that's the real reward. All other trophies pale in comparison.

Honored Contributor
Posts: 39,308
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: Giving kids trophies for just showing up

when i was in elementary school i received perfect attendance certificates and good sportmanship certificates......and this was 40+ years ago. is that any different?

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"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." - Albert Einstein
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Re: Giving kids trophies for just showing up

[ Edited ]

Agree 100% with this mindset. I remember when trophies were awarded for specific goals met: 1st, 2nd 3rd place; MVP; Top in XYZ category; things like that.

 

8 years ago, my then 7 year old was award "Player who Excelled the Most" by his rugby coaches because he worked and trained so hard to become a better player; he would come early to practice and be the last to leave and would ask how he could improve his skills (he was not a good/strong player and knew it). He attendened and played in matches on his own that were open to anyone in order to work on his technique and skills. His whole team stood up and applauded because they all knew how much work he had put into the season.

 

And then this biitch stood up.

 

"MY son scored the most points. MY son made every practice and match. MY son therefore EXCELLED far more and should have that trophy!"

 

Everyone just looked at her. Her son was beet red. The look on my sons face was heartbreaking. People then started talking to her, voices got loud, she was shrieking and my son just wanted to leave. ALL the joy...gone.

 

The NEXT year and ever since, the Club gives every player a trophy no matter what. My boys don't bother attending the award ceremony for ANY sport as it no longer means anything to receive a trophy. But trust me, those on the TEAM know who deserves one and who does not......as do the coaches.

Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,397
Registered: ‎06-15-2015

Re: Giving kids trophies for just showing up

 

 

Nope! Trophies are  AWARDED for a person or team that is the best at what they are/were doing. Hey! You want an "attendence award"? Give it to ONE person that attended the most practices/rehersals, whatever!

 

Anyone here get an award for showing up for a 5 day week?And some wonder "WHAT HAPPENED"?  Hello!!!

 

I won a lot of trophies and medals over many decades, but all were EARNED by winning or placing in the Top 3. Not a single one was given me for merely showing up.

hckynut(john)
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Re: Giving kids trophies for just showing up

Come to think of it, they did something similar when I was a kid - At camp everybody received an award when the season ended. 

Respected Contributor
Posts: 3,960
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: Giving kids trophies for just showing up

I agree with James, They shouldn't pass out 'Thanks for coming trophies" 

He has worked hard for everything he has and if that's the way he chooses to raise his boys, fine by me

 

 

Honored Contributor
Posts: 39,308
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: Giving kids trophies for just showing up


LyndaGee wrote:

Come to think of it, they did something similar when I was a kid - At camp everybody received an award when the season ended. 


 

 

 

 

 

exactly......it really isnt anything new.

i was in state orchestra and instrument competitions and even if you didnt place you still received a certificate of merit or participation or effort.

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"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." - Albert Einstein
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Re: Giving kids trophies for just showing up


@LyndaGee wrote:

Come to think of it, they did something similar when I was a kid - At camp everybody received an award when the season ended. 


Fine by me. I think young children need recognition.

 

As for sports trophies, I think there are ways to include everyone but still recognize performance as well.

 

I'm not quite ready to bemoan how we're ruining children because they should learn how hard life really is.


~Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
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Posts: 30,178
Registered: ‎03-12-2010

Re: Giving kids trophies for just showing up

I don't believe in giving a trophy for just showing up.  I think if you want to give one for good attendance, good, but not everyone should get one.

 

Come on.  This makes children feel like 'why should we compete or try our hardest'.  That's a no brainer.  This is the time in life where we learn.  Just like we learn to eat, walk, read, etc. we also learn that some people are better at some things than others.

 

We learn to work hard and to figure out what it is that we are good at.  It helps us to explore our interests and see just what it is that we're good at.

 

I truly believe that everyone is good at something.  Not necessarily fabulous but good at something.  If we hand out awards just for showing up to everyone, no one is going to try.

 

I would not let my child participate in anything that handed out awards just for showing up.

 

Children need to learn defeat just like they need to learn how amazing it feels to win.  Life is full of ups and downs.  If life is always even......how very sad.  It's life's downs that make us realize how great life's ups really are.

 

It helps us to learn how to deal with others.  There are so many life lessons to learn when you are young.

 

I think that is the problem with society today.  Children haven't learned how to lose gracefully.  Think back to how difficult it is when you're young to go over and shake the winner's hand and say, "Good game".  What an amazing kid that would be.

 

Was I one of those kids?  Heck no.  I wish I'd been taught how to be one of those kids.  Now that I'm an adult I am one of those people.  I taught my daughters there there is no one better than they are.  Don't be impressed by what other people have.  Be impressed by what they've accomplished.  It is very difficult to lose a lot of weight.  That should impress someone.

Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,397
Registered: ‎06-15-2015

Re: Giving kids trophies for just showing up


@sunshine45 wrote:

@LyndaGee wrote:

Come to think of it, they did something similar when I was a kid - At camp everybody received an award when the season ended. 


 

 

 

 

 

exactly......it really isnt anything new.

i was in state orchestra and instrument competitions and even if you didnt place you still received a certificate of merit or participation or effort.


 

 

 

 

 

I was also in "all city/all state bands". You tried out and you either made it on you musical ability or you didn't. They would say to those that didn't make the cut: Practice/Practice/Practice, and maybe next year you will be good enough to make playing in the band.

 

Yes, I tried out twice and made the cuts. 1st Seat 3rd Trumpet/Cornet.

hckynut(john)