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!