As mentioned from my week 30 update from yesterday, John’s thoughts deserved an entire post unto itself. I love the thoughtful topics he comes up with and can’t wait to read the comments on this one. Without further adieu, here’s my wonderful husband:
John’s Thoughts: As we are now under 10 weeks until the arrival of our little one, I have began thinking about the ramifications of being a role model and teacher throughout his whole life. Specifically, I spent a lot of time this week pondering the pervasive societal idea that “everyone gets a trophy.” What I mean by that is it seems society is very quick to tell all little kids how super-special they are and this is best seen during youth (sub-jr. high) sports; everyone gets a small trophy at the end of the season. Doesn’t matter if they couldn’t hit the ball with a bazooka or were Babe Ruth incarnate, everyone gets a trophy. I, for one, completely disagree with this ideology.
I am not saying kids aren’t special, because they absolutely are! Every single one is a precious gift and every single one has talents and abilities that make them special. They also deserve praise and recognition for their accomplishments (learning their colors, learning to tie their shoes, winning the game, etc.) However, telling everyone how awesome they are all the time and giving them trophies for nothing is actually detrimental to fostering their unique talents. Incentive is a driving force in life. If you give kids trophies for no reason, you remove all incentive for them to practice their talents so they get better and actually achieve something fantastic (which is then commemorated with a trophy). Currently, they realize it doesn’t matter if they try or not because they’re going to get a trophy regardless. When they play sports or start school, a loss or a mistake shouldn’t be seen as this “OH NO THEY LOST! YOU’RE A TERRIBLE CHILD!” situation; actually those are the best teaching moments.
I believe it is our job as parents to help our child realize that, although he feels bad for making a mistake, he needs to understand and learn from that mistake. He won’t always win trophies for what he does but he needs that incentive to achieve so he does get trophies. This is very beneficial later in life. At work, if you screw up a job for your boss, he isn’t going to come to you and say “Oh it’s OK John! You tried, here’s a trophy!” (also it would be weird for your boss to keep baseball trophies in his office to hand out to employees). No, your boss is most likely going to be upset with you. But as an adult, how do you rectify the situation? You push yourself harder to 1) never make that mistake again and 2) be even better at your job to demonstrate that your previous mistake doesn’t define you as an employee. Similarly, kids need to learn early in life that nothing is ever handed to them. They will make mistakes; they will not be the best at everything all the time; and they are not “entitled” to receiving recognition for their accomplishments if they didn’t actually accomplish anything. They need to not be afraid to mess up and to learn from those times when they faltered to push themselves to be the best. After trying their hardest to improve on their mistakes and to actually be the best, their trophy/recognition is going to be all the more enjoyable.
To wrap up, here is a great quote by one of the greatest basketball players to play the game that I feel speaks to what I wrote above:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan
What do you think about the “everyone gets a trophy” philosophy? How do you plan on teaching your kids it’s okay to make mistakes?