Monday, April 7, 2014
No, Virginia, Not Everyone Deserves a Trophy
There's no way to avoid starting this post with a "When I was a kid ..." story, so here goes:
When I was a kid, people received awards/trophies/recognition/candy/fill in the blank because they EARNED them. Typically, they accomplished their feats through hard work, effort and determination. Sometimes luck played a factor. If you sucked, you got nothing. If you came in second, nice try. Sure, there were hurt feelings, but you got over it, moved on and - hopefully - tried harder the next time. Failure was a part of life. I'm a kick-ass individual because of it.
Today, we reward kids for every stinkin' little thing they do. It drives me up the nut wall. When did simple praise and verbal recognition become not good enough? When did we decide that kids need tangible rewards just for doing the right thing or to avoid hurt feelings? When did society decide that occasional failure was a bad thing? Trying to console a distraught, angry or disappointed child is tough. It's heartbreaking. Watching your child fail is no picnic. But, it's necessary.
The other night my daughter left her gymnastics lesson in tears - again. At just 7 years old, my sweet girl wants to be the best at everything she does. And like her mama, she thinks she should be perfect at everything she tries the very first time. I hugged her, consoled her and reminded her once again that it takes time and practice to get good at something. She can't comprehend that some of the girls have been taking gymnastics much longer than she has and that's why their skills are stronger.She truly works hard during the 1-1/2 hour lesson, and it's a serious practice session. I get worn out just watching them.
As she sat on my lap sobbing, she said, "I just want to be rewarded for all of my hard work. I work really hard and I get nothing."
That caught my attention. "What kind of a reward do you think you should get?" I prodded.
"A piece of candy."
Nice. That's when I realized that we were headed down a life path that I don't want to take with my children.
And while I could blame this pervading mentality 100% on society, that wouldn't be fair. I'm guilty of giving tangible rewards when perhaps a hug and a "Job well done" would have sufficed. After this latest meltdown and my sweet girl's request for unwarranted recognition, I find myself more tuned in to how I handle similar situations and more aware of how I hand out praise and when.
What are your thoughts?
Thanks for reading! Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep it Real.