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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Odds Are, Your Kid Has Done Nothing in His or Her Short Life Worthy of a Trophy

Posted by on Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Not to step on Charles's toes as parenting editor, but kids aren't great at anything and they shouldn't receive awards that celebrate their mediocrity. Praise, sure! But they're kids—they're supposed to be learning. It takes a lifetime of practice to get award-worthy at stuff. And in the meantime, it's better for kids to learn how to fail than it is to get a trophy for basically nothing, so says science:

Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University, found that kids respond positively to praise; they enjoy hearing that they’re talented, smart and so on. But after such praise of their innate abilities, they collapse at the first experience of difficulty. Demoralized by their failure, they say they’d rather cheat than risk failing again.

In recent eye-tracking experiments by the researchers Bradley Morris and Shannon Zentall, kids were asked to draw pictures. Those who heard praise suggesting they had an innate talent were then twice as fixated on mistakes they’d made in their pictures.

By age 4 or 5, children aren’t fooled by all the trophies. They are surprisingly accurate in identifying who excels and who struggles. Those who are outperformed know it and give up, while those who do well feel cheated when they aren’t recognized for their accomplishments. They, too, may give up.

It turns out that, once kids have some proficiency in a task, the excitement and uncertainty of real competition may become the activity’s very appeal.

If children know they will automatically get an award, what is the impetus for improvement? Why bother learning problem-solving skills, when there are never obstacles to begin with?

 

Comments (25) RSS

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Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 25
@23

Awesome.

@24

Awesome.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on September 26, 2013 at 2:50 PM · Report this
24
Huh. You know, the kids who were born in the 'everybody gets a trophy' era also happen to be the driving force behind one of the most productive and profitable economies in history. They're paid much less than their parents were, enjoy a lot less economic stability, and get screwed from every angle by the people who are actually in power. Nevertheless, they make their bosses a shitload of money. And we're not even close to the capacity of what this workforce is capable of.

Gotta say, the people who invented 'everyone gets a trophy' did a swell job of creating an entire generation of really productive low-paid drones.
Posted by johnjjeeves on September 26, 2013 at 9:13 AM · Report this
Most Peeps Are Assholes 23
First, I don't take parenting advice from non-parents because y'all don't know what the fuck you're talking about. Women are always telling me not to open my fucking mouth about their vagina since I don't have one so I have to invoke a similar rule about kids and parenting.

Second, for young children - first and second grade - there's nothing wrong with giving out an award for participation. You are attempting to teach the child to stick with something and work towards a goal and be part of a team. Beyond that age, I'd agree that giving an award to everybody doesn't much motivate people.

Third, "giving an award to everybody" doesn't truly exist to the extent that people in the media would like you to believe. This is something perpetuated by those with an agenda and eaten up by those who don't have kids.
Posted by Most Peeps Are Assholes on September 26, 2013 at 3:58 AM · Report this
22
this results from saying "Good job!!!" when your kid puts his socks on. A whole generation of upper-class parents has done that.
Posted by sarah70 on September 25, 2013 at 10:46 PM · Report this
21
You do realize that the "everyone gets a trophy" meme has been a right wing talking point for at least a decade, right?

And that kids from poor and working class families never get a trophy? Or a decent education or affordable health care or healthy food etc.?

And plus, get offa my lawn!
Posted by codswallower on September 25, 2013 at 8:40 PM · Report this
Backyard Bombardier 20
This whole idea that "kids today" are over-rewarded is a myth. I'm raising a few kids myself. They are good students, involved in extracurricular activities, some clubs, some sporting activities, etc. They have strengths and they have weaknesses. And I have never seen one of these mythical "Everyone Gets a Trophy! You Are All Exceptional!" things go down.

Some kids get A's, some get B's, some get C's. At the end of the school year, some kids get certificates for excellent performance in one subject or another; most do not. At the swim meet or the soccer tournament, some kids win and get trophies; most do not.

A lot of events do hand out participation ribbons or medals, which are clearly identified as such. There is nothing wrong with that; the kid came out, tried his or her best, and gets to take home a memory of it. Giving out a souvenir ribbon or medal is not the same thing as telling kids they are better than they are. And kids are smart enough to recognize that. The kid who finishes last knows he did.
Posted by Backyard Bombardier on September 25, 2013 at 7:26 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 19
Being barely out of her twenties, Cienna is a member of the first generation in history to realize children are being coddled! Coddled, I say. Parents today are too soft!

Something Must Be Done Lest We Raise A Generation of Weaklings.™

We Must Return To The Good Old Days Of Stern Parenting.™

Why When I Was Your Age.™
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on September 25, 2013 at 6:53 PM · Report this
mr. herriman 18
Aureolaborealis @3, I think we were classmates?!
Posted by mr. herriman on September 25, 2013 at 6:01 PM · Report this
17
Modern American liberalism is all about rewarding losers.
Posted by Sugartit on September 25, 2013 at 5:00 PM · Report this
treacle 16
s/it's/its/
erg.
Posted by treacle on September 25, 2013 at 4:01 PM · Report this
treacle 15
The contra-positive situation, where the child is told that they aren't good at anything, and their achievements are routinely ignored in order to focus on their failures, has it's little bugaboos as well. Like lifelong therapy.
Posted by treacle on September 25, 2013 at 4:00 PM · Report this
seandr 14
Agree 100%.

In my household, we don't give prizes to our kids when they win. We simply punish them severely when they lose.

Shit, I forgot to slip my son's lunch under the door of the shed. Whatever, he'll make it til dinner.
Posted by seandr on September 25, 2013 at 3:45 PM · Report this
13
The 'everyone gets a gold star' culture is a purely liberal invention. Liberals hate competition.
Posted by Sugartit on September 25, 2013 at 3:42 PM · Report this
unknown_entity 12
Counter-balance the NY Times piece with this from Mother Jones. In fact, the SLOG just linked to it a few days ago.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013…
Posted by unknown_entity on September 25, 2013 at 3:41 PM · Report this
Mike Force 11
So true. The participation ribbon generation (mine) has a tough time dealing with adversity and reality.
Posted by Mike Force http://www.autotone.net on September 25, 2013 at 3:36 PM · Report this
unknown_entity 10
I detect a whiff of Ayn Rand here.
Posted by unknown_entity on September 25, 2013 at 3:30 PM · Report this
Unregistered User 9
if

"By age 4 or 5, children aren’t fooled by all the trophies. They are surprisingly accurate in identifying who excels and who struggles. Those who are outperformed know it and give up, while those who do well feel cheated when they aren’t recognized for their accomplishments. They, too, may give up."

leads to

"It turns out that, once kids have some proficiency in a task, the excitement and uncertainty of real competition may become the activity’s very appeal."

then I don't understand how this follows:

"If children know they will automatically get an award, what is the impetus for improvement? Why bother learning problem-solving skills, when there are never obstacles to begin with?"

The kids aren't affected but they are? I should praise but I shouldn't?
Posted by Unregistered User on September 25, 2013 at 3:29 PM · Report this
dnt trust me 8
I agree with 5, but preferred reading 3
Posted by dnt trust me on September 25, 2013 at 3:28 PM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 7
Story of my life!
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on September 25, 2013 at 3:27 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 6
You think kids have a lot of meaningless trophies?

Check out the military.

He looks like he spilled a fruit salad on his chest.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on September 25, 2013 at 3:21 PM · Report this
5
Oh Cienna, you stumbled on the dirty little secret of my generation. We thought EVERYONE should get a gold star for anything they do. Participation? Certificate. Finish the season? Trophy, photo and party.

Finish kindergarten? Graduation.

Please note; none of us had this in our growing up years. You had to do something significant or important to rate notice.

So why do this?

Because we think every one of our snowflakes is precious and God help you if you don't think so.

As the article says, kids aren't dumb. They know that gold star means nothing if everyone gets one.

Effort, failure, long hours, mastery - these build resilience.

We are failing our children.
Posted by westello on September 25, 2013 at 3:21 PM · Report this
4

Kids know that trophies don't pay for video games.

I have a new solution.

Take the $10,000 per pupil per year that we're spending in failing inner city schools and offer a cut of that...say $4000, to a student if he passes certain competencies.

Of that $4000, say $1000 would go to the kid directly, and the other $3000 would go to a college fund. After 12 years of school the kid would have $36,000 in his account (the amount of the average student loan).
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on September 25, 2013 at 3:18 PM · Report this
aureolaborealis 3
I had a classmate way back when who got a Firebird for "graduating" from 8th grade. He was old enough to drive it. It did not spur him on to academic greatness.
Posted by aureolaborealis on September 25, 2013 at 3:06 PM · Report this
2
So, really, what the article is saying is that "participation" trophies are BS?

Shocked, shocked I am to hear this!
Posted by Every child is a STAR! on September 25, 2013 at 3:04 PM · Report this
Sean Kinney 1
So what. My kid is gonna win a goddamned trophy!
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on September 25, 2013 at 2:53 PM · Report this

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