Monday, April 19, 2010

"It's Not Fair!"

Yesterday was the last session of my daughter's winter soccer league. All of the kids get these huge trophies for participating. My daughter now has a total of 5 trophies--4 from soccer and 1 from a drama class she took. Not too shabby for a six year old. Actually, I've never earned a trophy my entire life! When I was a kid, they just didn't hand out trophies for just showing up. You actually had to earn the trophies!

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my daughter's soccer league. It's a very fun place to learn to play that doesn't involve overly competitive parents or coaches. There is no official score-keeping. Although everyone does keep score anyway! But are we sending our kids the right message by giving them big trophies just for participating? Or are we not preparing them for the "real world" where everyone isn't handed a trophy?

Last Friday, I was with my daughter at school when the results of a drawing contest were announced. The top three entries per grade level were awarded. Unfortunately, my daughter's submission wasn't one of them. "It's not fair!" she cried when she found out she didn't win. She had a hard time accepting that she did her best on something, but it wasn't good enough. It's a tough lesson for anyone to learn. I'm afraid she's going to learn the same lesson when a picture she submitted to Highlights magazine probably won't get published.

As parents, we have to teach the concept that things don't always go our way, and we can't "win" everything. The idea of trying your best is what counts! However, I think as a society, we need to start teaching the same lesson and not coddle kids with huge trophies or other unearned rewards. Giving kids smaller tokens for participating can be just as exciting (such as handing out medals for everyone, but saving the trophy to the kid who scored the most goals in the season).

I know this might sound harsh, but I think it serves the kids best in the long run! I'm afraid we're raising a generation of children who are going to have a sense of entitlement--that they deserve anything they want because, well, they want it! They won't feel they have to work hard to actually earn the accolades! I think they'll have to learn at some point that it's important to try your best, but you're not always going to be the best. And that's okay!


  1. You are right. I hear "it's not fair" throughout my days. I tell my kids that life isn't about everything being fair and that they need to learn to deal with that now. And that includes being happy and content for the other person who they are comparing themselves again.

    Then I also remind them of one of my fave quotes
    "comparison is the death of contentment"

    Blessings to you.

  2. That is a great quote, Rachel! I have to say that participation trophies are nothing new! They were giving those out when my children were doing youth sports in the late 1980's and 1990's. We already have a generation of very "entitled" young adults and the society at large is beginning to feel the effects. College admission counselors complain about parents calling and asking why their darling child didn't get admitted to the college. Parents visiting bosses to make sure the company is treating their child correctly and the child is getting a good salary, office, vacation, etc! There is already a generation of indulgent children!

  3. I totally agree with you! Thanks for commenting on my blog. I'm following you. Love your blog, can't wait to read more! :)

  4. Good luck to her. Those Highlights editors are harsh! If she does get her picture published, let me know. I can tell the gals at work "I know her!" when we get the issue at the dental office :)

    Lamb’s Most Recent Post: Woot, Woot! Party at the 2010 HGTV Green Home!

  5. artwork is so subjective to give awards too. i have to always explain this to my kids in those coloring contests. once, one of the younger ones won an award and it was all scribbles while the older ones carefully colored in the lines really pretty. they were so mad they didn't win for all their effort while the messy one's did.

  6. You are right. We are a generation of parents who over provide for their children. Our parents seem to have been of the idea that it was ok for children to cry and feel longing. As a rule, that idea seems to be lost on us. I have a hard time restraining myself from buying and giving my daughter the world, but entitlement is completely unacceptable.