Everybody wins?

Participation trophies offer no positive encouragement


The process of cleaning my room includes dusting off dozens upon dozens of participation trophies that have gradually lost their meaning over the years. I have been competing in dance since the age of six and have left every competition with a trophy, regardless of whether I won or lost. Of course, at a young age, I was very appreciative of this. Now, I am beginning to realize just how worthless some of those awards were. In my opinion, children should not be given participation awards.
Giving children participation awards provides a false sense of accomplishment that does nothing to prepare them for the future. Children are less prepared for real world situations when they have the mindset that they are able to “win” at everything. In the future, in regards to job interviews or acceptance into competitive schools, the kids are not going to accomplish anything for just showing up.
Children need to be praised on the process and performance, not the results. According to Psychology Today, parents should praise their kids for what they did right and how they improved. Motivation should come from wanting to do better, not wanting to beat your competitors.
There are those people in everyone’s lives that are very egotistical. This can stem from winning or constantly getting compensation for losing. This can be very toxic, for it can affect how these children deal with losing. Kids who have experience with losing can deal with failure in a more acceptable way and are able to take the appropriate measures to improve for the future.

Personally, participation trophies have lost their meaning to me over the years. I normally get one just for completing a dance, and it used to make me a lot happier when I was younger. Now, I don’t even pay attention during the first half of the award ceremony, only truly listening to the overall awards. For the non-dancer readers, this is the part where everyone is ranked, and you get to see how your dance compares to others. This is all that really matters to me because the top five usually get medals, so in this case your award is actually meaningful.
I am appreciative of the awards I receive, but I have learned to not let my achievements or placements affect my mindset. I try my best to look past these aspects and focus on improvement. My only hope is that children can start to have these realizations as well, for the next generation has the potential to be gracious winners and not be as dependent on a small piece of plastic.