Do you have any participation trophies on your bookshelf? You know what I mean right? You were on the team so you received an award. Maybe it’s a soccer medal that would be exceptional if it were not hanging around the necks of every single child in the entire league. See, there is nothing exceptional about receiving something that has been made to be ordinary.
That is what fascinates us about professional athletes. They are so much better at their trade than any of the rest of us. And, on top of that, of the 1,000’s of players that each professional sport employs, only a few of them are given awards at the end of the respective seasons. That makes it exceptional. Not everyone gets to play at that level. Then, at the end of their playing careers, an even smaller group will move on to that sport’s Hall-of-Fame. It is this elite status that draws us to watch. Nobody would bother turning on their televisions if anyone could play.
However, I know what you are going to say next. There is a huge difference between professional sports and our nine and ten-year-old children. And, I will agree with you. There is definitely a difference there. You might also say that it is more important that we build up their self-esteem and that providing them with a trophy at season’s end is a way to accomplish that. This is an area that we would disagree. Yet, don’t get me wrong. I do see a place for building self-esteem. They need to be built up. They need to feel safe. I just do not think that it is the most important part of our child’s development.
I would suggest that, of equal importance, is developing the ability to lose with grace. Handing out participation trophies tends to take the sting away from defeat. Yet, that sting is important, especially as our children age. Failure is an inevitable part of life. Our kids will lose at sports and our kids will lose at life. Both of these losses can be addressed by teaching our children how to lose at an early age. Teach them that success is not assured. There are many things that require hard work and superior effort.
Showing up and being on the field is not necessarily enough.
Also, I would go so far as to claim another benefit of holding back on the accolades.
When your child wins big, and it will happen, you want it to mean something.
There will come a day when you will get the chance to pick your child up and carry them off the field. There will be a victory in their life that will deserve celebration. Don’t cheapen it by celebrating the mediocre moments of their lives as well. Instead, use those moments to build up desire and determination.
Teach them to lose now so that they can win big later.
Life is Strange. Live it Well.