When we start our family, we all seem to have an idea of what we want in the end. We want to raise respectful, kind, sensitive, obedient, self-motivated, responsible, and God fearing children. So we bring home our bundle of love and we stare at him for hours! Parenting begins immediately with so many needs to meet. We rarely, if ever, sit down with our spouse and ask, “how do we instill character qualities like self-discipline, responsibility, self-control, etc. into our child?” So we buy books, Google-search topics, and out pops this idea that “every child should get a trophy!” You then think of how bad you felt as a child when you didn’t win, or when you were not chosen first to be on a team. You then conclude that this is a great idea so your child does not have to feel the bad feelings you felt as a child. You buy the lie, hook, line... and you are sunk!
What was developed in you when you experienced not being chosen, or not receiving “most valuable player?” I was totally shocked at graduation for one of my sons, when they announced the valedictorian and an entire line of students came out. I thought, “what in the world is this? We will be here all night if they each have a speech!” Whatever happened to one valedictorian?
I’m picking on this thought that every child gets a trophy because it actually encapsulates this big idea floating around that it legitimately harms a child for him or her to feel bad - so if we say NO to our child, he/she will be harmed. Did you know that London outlawed “best friends?” I guess if a child has a best friend then it hurts other children’s feelings. Therefore, we will not say no, we will distract them instead! We will let them think they have earned a trophy in every sport they try, and we will keep them from experiencing any bad feelings.
If our children have been sold the idea that they should be praised and receive a trophy even if they did not perform well, are they really prepared for the real world? Do we get every job we apply for? Do we get every promotion that’s up for grabs? Do we get accepted into every college we apply to? If, for example, we decide to give every child in elementary school a trophy, and they enter middle school and don’t get a trophy, what will happen then? I’ll tell you - they will be blamers! It will be the coach’s fault, or your fault, or anybody or anything they can think of. Why? Because they are not prepared for disappointment, for not being chosen or for not being the best. They will not have learned how to contain and manage bad feelings. Trust me on this point, feelings drive behavior. How will they behave if we protect them from negative feelings?
I agree with encouraging children and being there emotionally when they experience a negative event. I believe in helping them learn how it feels and how to manage those feelings. Hearing the word “no” is part of life and it begins as soon as they can understand language. Let me know your thoughts!