We are very competitive in our house. Who can get guess closer on the grocery bill? Who can land the better deal for the new car? Who can write the best blog? This morning my wife offered me a participation trophy because she “thinks” she writes the better blog. I smiled and told her “thank you for the participation trophy, but I don’t need it”. I have played sports my whole life and every position was earned, not given. Winners were winners and 2nd place meant the first loser.
There is a fair amount of debate whether to offer children participation trophies or not. I have coached at all competition levels of soccer, hockey, and volleyball. I can unequivocally say, like adults, children come in all shapes, sizes, and personality types. Some kids have no desire for participation trophies, some need that reinforcement to their confidence, the encouragement they are on the right track to continue to grow as people.
One of my favorite teams to ever coach was a group of under 8’s soccer players. I had a couple of players who played soccer before, one child whose favorite sport was baseball but wanted to try soccer and 10 children who never played soccer before. Some kids were very competitive, and others, just happy to be there. I had to tailor my message to meet the children’s idea of fun. Some of them, I was tough but fair, others I had to hug. On more than one occasion I put my trio of girls as my forwards and they responded by making the Charlie’s Angels pose. Some of the parents set that up. In the end, they all had fun.
My conclusion is this: We are a world of 7 billion people and there aren’t two of us that are the same. Our kids have different ways of learning lessons in life. If a child needs a participation trophy, that’s as good as those who love to win and achieve. The important lesson is reassurance for our kids to grow. My wife is a perfect example. I gave her the participation trophy and let her think she won.