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So many people want to harp on and on about parents being ‘mean’ to their children, but few of them seem to understand that barricading them from disappointment and the rougher edges of life will come to do more harm in the end than a smack on the butt, not abuse, could ever do just to correct their behavior.

Welcome to the participation trophy fallout, in which children of this day and age are being allowed to morph into disrespectful monsters that believe they’re entitled to success because someone didn’t tell them that failure is indeed a part of life. You want your kid to win, to learn how to handle a failure in their life? Let them fall, let them land on their face a time or two, or ten, or twenty, however long it takes for them to get the message: Life is not going to hold your hand and LET you win. You want it? Get out there and earn it. There are no participation trophies for simply getting by.


  1. The participation trophy is certainly a faulty concept. Which most likely has its roots in good intentions. However, that does not insulate this practice from detrimental results. Beyond how participation trophies influence performance and achievement later on in life there are other considerations.

    Guilt would be one of the more oblique considerations. Anyone with a conscience feels guilt when they obtain something they didn’t earn. That can run the gambit from verbal praises to promotes, etc. Kids are no different. Even if it is at a deeper subconscious level it racks children with guilt. Children much like adults have internalized our unwritten norms, values , and virtues. While it might be fun to be a winner for a moment if it isn’t substantial true the high is short lived. The facts of reality set in and joy is rapidly fleeting. Most things that are contrived and insincere are ethereal. Therefore, are short lived and paired with a stifling crash.

    1. I agree fully with what you’ve said and my take on this is that at a certain age, when winning isn’t the most important thing, when participation IS the big thing, to get a child involved and allow them to have fun and learn what competition is like. Up to a certain age participation trophies are great, they show a child that trying is the first step to attaining that good feeling that comes from earning something. But yes, after a while, being awarded something without having earned it can very easily create either a sense of guilt or a sense of entitlement. They’re great in the beginning, but at some point a transition needs to be made to remind kids that winning and losing are a part of the game, and that there are lessons to be learned either way.

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