In an age of easy retake policies and the desire to eliminate scoring from children’s sports, work ethic is starting to lose its meaning. The importance of friendly competition is being diminished by the overwhelming desire to spare children’s feelings. Parents have begun to shelter their kids from the most basic lesson in life: failure. Instead of teaching them the importance of working hard to succeed in America, we’ve started awarding them for just showing up.
Yes, I’m referring to the participation trophy. This ideology is dangerous to a capitalist society.
In life, you don’t get a paycheck just for sticking around. You must work for an education (in a competitive field), a promotion, or a nicer car. There’s no point in trying when the reward is inevitable.
The Felt Tip Marker study is excellent proof of this. Children ages 3-5 were studied in regards to expected versus unexpected reward. The researchers told one group of children they would receive an award at the end of an exercise regardless of how well they did. The researchers did not promise groups of children awards in advance. Surprisingly, the children who were told they would receive an award performed significantly less than the other groups.
Though it’s important to support and praise children, it is highly toxic to reward them for anything other than winning. Participation trophies shelter children from the reality of failure. We live in a capitalist society. Raising kids to believe they are entitled to what everyone else has feeds socialist ideals and the Bernie Sanders movement. We cannot sugar-coat life and then expect a child to turn around and thrive.
Let children compete for the love of the game and for the sake of being extraordinary. Not because there’s a big, shiny, meaningless trophy waiting for them at the finish line. When they compete for their first job, they will thank you.