Recently, my mom sent my an audiobook by Joe Montana called The Winning Spirit. He made an interesting observation in the introduction. It is something that I agree with completely. Montana pointed out that quite frequently the most recent generations of kids are being rewarded for simply showing up.
For example, every kid on every sports team gets a "participation" trophy. While I don't disagree that kids should be commended for following through on their committment to a team, I do not necessarily believe that they should all get trophies. I remember when I was growing up, we all wanted to win a trophy. Trophies were reserved for the members of the best team. This desire for a trophy ignited a fire within us to do our best, not just to show up. This is just one example of rewarding kids for simply showing up.
I think that kids should be urged to put forth their best effort. If they win, that is wonderful and they should be given some token to celebrate that. If they don't win, they still take away many lessons. I'm not sure what we are teaching our kids by rewarding them for simply showing up, but I'm fairly certain that it can't be good. Seeing our kids disappointed that they didn't get a trophy is far easier than it will be to see them as adults suffer when they lose jobs and other opportunities because they felt it good enough to show up and didn't bother to bring their best efforts along with them.
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