Monday, November 16, 2009

pet peeve #27

My children play recreational soccer. The league doesn't even keep score or have play off. Yet, every year each player gets a huge trophy. For the first few years, we kept the trophies. Now we just take a picture of it and throw it away.

I keep wondering why they insist upon such ridiculous trophies. I image someone in the league is a parent with an only child and thinks that children need excessive praise to develop self esteem. I'm annoyed that we have to pay for those meaningless trophies. I'm not against some sort of recognition for the players' efforts and improvement, but why the pretense to some great award.

This problem of excessive praise is not limited to my soccer league. Parents are the primary culprit, but this practice has been institutionalized at many schools and youth organizations.

Unfortunately, I know a few home educators who fall into this trap. These parents become overly eager to protect their children from any sort of negative feedback and use homeschooling as a way to insulate the child from anyone who could burst his little bubble. You can spot them easily at park day: the children are whiny and the parents are perpetually upset because their little Suzy didn't get the attention she deserves.

A recent book, Kids are worth it!: giving your child the gift of inner discipline, documents how excessive praise actually lowers self-esteem. "Congratulating children on all accomplishments has created a generation of praise junkies: undermotivated kids who are addicted to acknowledgment."

I couldn't agree more. Now, how do I get the soccer league to embrace the idea?

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education


kathleen said...

"I imagine someone in the league is a parent with an only child and thinks that children need excessive praise to develop self esteem."

What do you have against only children?? I am the parent of an only child, and I certainly do not think that children need excessive praise to develop self-esteem. My only child is not whiny or selfish, either. It was certainly not our choice to have only one child; God gave us our daughter, and we are more thankful for her than you can ever imagine. Your comment saddened me; I never expected to hear such an overused stereotype on this blog.

Janine Cate said...

This wasn't intended to pick on families with an only child. It is just that logistically speaking, I can't imagine that a large family could keep that many junk trophies, even if they wanted to. We only have 3 kids in soccer and I ran out of space for trophies years ago. ;)

The point of the post is that children of any size family who get excessive praise are ill prepared for adulthood.

TheTutor said...

Offer to purchase the "trophies" yourself in the future. I was also getting tired of the unwarranted trophies (we're getting ready to receive another today... got blindsided by the flag football league... and they keep score and have playoffs, but the trophies aren't based on that - sorry, rabbit trail). When our oldest was on a recreational soccer team, it was an all-girl team, so I offered to buy the end-of-season "award." I bought charm bracelets and soccer charms with the year engraved on the back. The parents were so appreciative and the girls loved them. We are planning on adding to this activity bracelet in the future. (We moved, and she moved-on from soccer.)

For a boy/girl team, I would maybe look at a frame with a little plaque for the name of the team and the year for students to put their team picture in. Or even a photo album with the info for the current team filled in for the team photo to be added to. Future team pictures can be added to the album and it won't take up any more space.

I'd love to see leagues get rid of these little dust-collectors... let's face it, we as parents already have tons of pictures and have spent a lot of money getting the child signed up, suited up, transported, and fed so our child can participate in the sport. Not to mention the message a trophy simply for attending and participating sends to the athlete. However, if a league refuses to get rid of the token, at least we may be able to influence its manifestation.

Kirsten Erin said...

For some reason this reminds me of The Incredibles where the Mr. Incredible says, "He's not graduating. He's moving from the fourth grade to the fifth grade! Why do they keep finding more ways to celebrate mediocrity?!"

Anyway, I love this post. You're right, if we keep over-praising children for moderate acomplishments, they'll not get the satisfaction of true praise when they've accomplished something great. It's not to say that we shouldn't praise them, just don't blow it up into something it's not so that that kind of praise can be saved for something truly wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I grew up playing a lot of "everyone gets a trophy" sports. I also had some "I actually won this" trophies.

The trophies served to give me a sense of progression, and trigger the memories of that particular year, and that particular team. (Even the teams that did badly were often fun years)

But my favorite isn't a trophy, but a Christmas ornament. Fall sports always ended in late November, and for one team, ("The Steamers") the coach made little train engine Christmas ornaments for each player. They're small, they don't take up a lot of room, and they still trigger an annual memory trip about that team.

Janine Cate said...

Love the idea of bracelets and Christmas ornaments instead of trophies.

>"Why do they keep finding more ways to celebrate mediocrity?!"

I love that quote. I spent most of the movie out in the hall with a cranky toddler, so I missed that one.

Homeschool Resources said...

I think children should be praised for what they do but with a sense of reality. No one needs an oversized view of themselves! I have found as a homeschool mom though I tend to be harder on my kids then I should some times and often don't praise enough when I should.