How Many Breathing Awards Does Your Child Have?

What are breathing awards, you say?  They are awards that children receive for just breathing.  You know what I mean.  I'm sure you know of a child that has received a citizenship award at school while the other children receive awards for being on the honor roll.  If your child plays a sport, they may have received a trophy despite coming in last place.  My daughters' room is filled with trophies and ribbons and certificates.  Its just ridiculous!  I can count on one hand the number of awards that were truly earned.  There was a child who quit the soccer team after the 2nd week and her mother came to the last game to get her trophy.  What is she teaching her child?

Why are we rewarding kids just for breathing? We need to stop rewarding kids just for participating.  This is teaching them that they should be rewarded without putting forth much effort.  They start to develop a sense of entitlement.  Children need to know that they need to work hard in order to be rewarded for anything.

I once saw a child throw a temper tantrum because he didn't get a goody bag at a birthday party.  He thought that he deserved treats just for coming to the party.  He said that he wasted his time coming to the party because he left empty handed.  When kids get too focused on the reward they forget the purpose of the activity, whether its school, sports or a birthday party.

Parents need to stop coddling their kids.  Disappointment is a part of life.  Its ok if your team doesn't win and you don't get a breathing award.  Breathing awards are given for the sole purpose of making a child feel good because he/she was not good enough!

 

 

Filed under: Parenting

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  • I totally agree with you! Children DO need to work harder in order to be rewarded for anything. We're not being bad parents, right? We're simply teaching them to be hardworking individuals. I believe children would value the "treat or reward" more knowing that they had to exert effort compared to a reward just being handed over.

    By the way, I love your title.

  • Rachel,
    You are a good parent because you want to raise your child the right way. Good morals and values are very important things to teach your children. Thanks for commenting!

  • I'll agree with you that maybe the participation pendulum has swung too far in one direction and needs to swing back toward the middle.

    I guess it depends on the age of the child, the activity being undertaken, and who is providing the opportunity. Out here in the 'burbs, park districts provide programs that are accessible to all, so no child is discouraged from giving something new a try. First through fourth graders have their entire lives to be competitive with one another, so why discourage a shy, uncoordinated kid from participating in an activity that encourages physical fitness and team play?

    Kids need to be encouraged to move! Since they all develop at different rates, why instill a lifelong distaste for physical fitness by associating it with a winner/loser outcome? Last I checked, we have an epidemic of obesity and an entire generation of kids who would rather play video games (which require no movement nor imagination) than go outside and ride a bike, play tag, shoot hoops, or turn cartwheels in the front yard. The idea of striving to be the best at every activity one undertakes is not always healthy for the vast majority that never become champions.

    For those kids (or should I say, parents of those kids) who want to compete at a higher level, club sports exist that require tryouts and a higher level of dedication to succeed. If you want your little one to experience "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat", there is no shortage of opportunities.

    For those that want to encourage their kids to get out and play and develop a lifelong appreciation for physical activity, there doesn't need to be a win/lose outcome. It is possible to just enjoy participating for the sake of participating.

    Do kids need a trophy to show that they showed up? Probably not. If they accumulate enough of them they'll soon realize on their own that trophies hold no real value.

    Our challenge as parents is to motivate them to try new things, discover their talents, cultivate their interests, and stay dedicated as long as it's something they want to do for themselves. It's how we deal with their triumphs and disappointments that matter. They're our kids and its up to us to instill the proper values - not the park district, little league, or the dance studio...

  • In reply to Brent Cohrs:

    Brent,
    I agree that it depends on the age of the child. Maybe for children under the age of 8 there should not be a win/loss situation. Maybe for children age 9 or 10 its ok to introduce competitive sports. I will never agree that everyone should be rewarded because its not real life. Thanks for your comments and I hope to hear from you again.

  • Children DO need motivation. Awards can be a great motivator. There ARE many awards that do not require achievement. I agree that an award for no performance does not motivate. Participation awards can be silly, except for certain children with certain disabilities. For many children with disabilities, awards can be very motivating, even for participation. Most children understand being awarded for participation means little, and that sheet of paper goes directly into the recycling. There are some participation awards that have a deep meaning. When children participate in less known events and competitions, those certificates can be highly motivating. We need to be sure that we do not devalue the motivating awards. As a teacher, I see the Citizenship Award losing its value. I do not always use it. I create awards. Once, I awarded a child a Best In-Uniform Award. He was always proud of his appearance and being clean, something that he viewed as important. He lived in the projects and knew that many children wore the same clothes for days in a row. He did a great job with his appearance and I acknowledged it. He liked it. Another award was the Best Friend Award. This boy was friendly and fair, and liked to help his two best friends with their work. I did not want to imply that he was popular, so I looked at his attributes and saw that his friendship was admired and appreciated. Just one or two specific awards can make a difference for children. I do like the attendance award because I am a teacher; attendance correlates with achievement. Let's all try to praise our children a little more, surprise them and show them that simple things are important, and give them the hollow awards less.

  • In reply to vivacious:

    Vivacious,
    Nice screen name. I just want to say that none of my blogs are about and children with disabilities nor do my blogs pertain to parents with disabled children. With that said, I stand by my statement about children feeling entitled. There are so many young people in high school and college who think that they deserve good grades just for coming to class. There are also plenty of new college grads who think that they deserve a promotion because they come to work on time and complete their work. It starts by rewarding kids for doing what is expected. I do appreciate your comments and the opportunity to share various points of view.

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