Participation…

November 8th, 2012

YOU ARE SPECIAL. — Remember hearing that when you were a kid? It was the start of the “feel good” era… Or maybe the middle–I’m really not sure when that started. We all had to feel accepted; we had to feel like we were great. But we were all so busy feeling like we were special that most of us forgot that there are other people in the world. It was all about us. It was making sure everyone was appreciated for whatever it was they did. We wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, now would we?

How did this happen? The adults in our lives made sure we felt special. Yes, parents, I blame you. Now, before you start getting hurt because I am blaming you for the way your teenager misbehaves; if you don’t already know, I am a parent. I can 100% empathize with you. It kills me to see my little boy disappointed, especially in himself. Do I think my little boy is special? Yes, he is special to me. He is the most important person in my life. Do I tell him I am proud of him, even if he didn’t win? Of course I do.

Participation ribbons. What a waste of money, and a contribution to the “feel good” era. You show up, you get a participation ribbon. Isn’t the point of getting a ribbon to show that you WON a competition? Giving out participation ribbons makes the first, second and third place ribbons less special. If everyone gets a ribbon, if everyone is given the impression that they are good at whatever they are competing in, isn’t that the same as lying? Giving participation ribbons when there are 1st, 2nd and 3rd place ribbons, is almost like giving undue credit.

Don’t get me wrong. I love how excited my son gets when he shows me his trophy from his baseball season. However, it’s a participation trophy. When I was a kid, I never got a trophy for playing baseball. Yes, I played baseball. Not-so-girly-Munkie. The winners of tournaments got trophies. When I was in Speech, I never got a ribbon for showing up to a Speech Meet. I got ribbons for doing well in my category. Incredibly-geeky-Munkie.

We are living in a world of “me”s. Not people just like me. That would be terrifying. People whose favorite word is “me.” “I need…”; “I want…”; “My day…”; “My feelings…” — some of the ways we start 75% of our sentences.

We have all become people consumed with ourselves. We have this fear of being slightly uncomfortable (“I don’t like standing up for what I believe, it makes me uncomfortable.”); having to wait a little while for something is unbearable; WE WANT IT NOOOOW. Okay, Veruca. — Please tell me you got that reference. If not, stop reading this and go watch the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Gene Wilder > Johnny Depp. In this film. I doubt Gene Wilder would make a very good Jack Sparrow. Just my opinion. Ugh. I can’t stay on topic to save my life today. Maybe that’s a good thing; you need entertainment, right?

Being told you aren’t the greatest — can be very beneficial.

As far as participation trophies and ribbons, what child is going to work hard to become better, if he gets a reward at the end for being average? They want to be “good enough” NOW… Not after they do the work to become the best. I’d rather children not get a trophy and feel bad for a little while. It gives them the motivation to become better at whatever it is, to get that trophy next year.

They also need to be taught how to be a graceful loser. I pointed that out in a Facebook post after the election. I was incredibly disappointed to see some incredibly rude posts, name calling, and racist remarks. The rude posts weren’t just from the Romney fans. This is never okay, and showing your children that it is okay to speak this way, is shameful. I am truly embarrassed by the things that my friends and members of my family were saying. Teach children that it’s okay to lose, and whether you win or lose, being graceful about it awards a lot more respect than any foul words ever will.

Participation trophies end when real life begins. You don’t get participation awards for just participating in anything, once you are an adult. So why are we giving our children the impression that participation is enough? We need to be teaching children that if you work hard, practice, and perfect your style, you will do well. Again, please don’t begin telling children they aren’t special, and that you are proud of them. They need to know that you love them and see their progress. But in the real world, participation isn’t enough, and the sooner we show them that, the better.

Just a thought from my head. Have a good day. ❤


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