Opinion by J1 Reporter Lauren Zadalis
“But everyone gets a trophy for participating!” This phrase is the applauded for absolutely no reason. Children these days receive a ribbon, certificate, trophy, or some other kind of award simply for participating in an event they signed up to partake in. Competitions turn into “everyone’s a winner”. Although it is important to celebrate everyone’s gifts and talents, participation prizes create a false sense of hope in children.
No one likes to lose. It can ultimately be devastating and embarrassing. However, losing is inevitable. It creates new ways to grow and learn from obstacles. When a team loses, they grow from their errors and try to win the next game. When children fall off their bikes, they teach themselves how to stay upright.
Teaching children early on how to cope with that defeat is a crucial life skill that children are missing. Realizing how the world works, growing from that with confidence and motivation, and making peace with the loss are all aspects that will be useful as a teenager and especially as an adult. Mistakes and defeat happen. But it is crucial to teach children how to cope with losing early on.
We need to remove the training wheels participation prizes provide because if we don’t, children will grow up thinking they’re invincible. And reality will knock them down hard in the near future. It is better for children to fail while they still have support in their parents, rather than throwing them out into the real world with no true perception of reality nor the ability to cope with losses.
So stop congratulating every kid for signing up for the team or participating just because their parents forced them to. We need to focus on helping them deal with defeat rather than building them up for absolutely no reason. Losing drives success. The more you lose, the more you want to win.