Participation vs Achievement awards

This year both our girls took dance classes after school each week.  Each term they learned a new dance routine and at the end of the term, performed on stage.   Watching them over the year we have seen their confidence grow.  The dance school focuses on the kids having fun and feeling positive about themselves, rather than focussing on perfection, hair and makeup.  This is perfect for those at a young age who just want to dance and have fun.

Each term they receive a certificate for having completed the routine, but after four terms, or one whole year of dancing, they receive a trophy.

Now our girls have been excited about receiving this trophy since they found out they'd get one at the end of the year. In fact, it is partly responsible for helping them stick at the dancing classes for an entire year!

Is it right to give kids a trophy just for participation?  Should trophies be reserved for achievement?  Or is sticking at something for a year considered an achievement now?

Our daughters are thrilled with their trophies, and as a parent it's wonderful to see them so proud of what they have done. But in some way I do feel it devalues the medals and trophies won for being the best at something.

Our eldest daughter won a gold medal for winning overal in her age group in the swimming carnival. To me that is more of an achievement than one year's participation in a dance class. But will she see her medal as more than her big trophy?

Maybe kids assign their own value to the things they win.  For me, personally, when I was younger I was a gymnast for several years.  I won several medals in competitions - a few gold team medals, but my most prized medals were two bronze individual medals I won.  I was thrilled to win all my medals and certificates, but I was aware of the significance of each one - and the effort I had put in for each.

I hope our girls can learn to put their medals, certificates and trophies into perspective as their collections grow in the coming years!

How do you feel about recognition for participation vs achievement? What have your kids 'won'?


1 comment:

  1. Another great post and a great topic that I think about a lot. I think when you give kids rewards or trophies just for participation it actually holds them back from doing their actual best or working harder. We need to go back to when we were taught that it's not about winning or getting the trophie it's about setting goals for yourself and going the distance.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't try to win, if you want to win or be successful you have to make it a goal and push yourself to achieve it. What's the point of trying or pushing yourself if your going to get the reward or trophy anyway.

    We need to teach kids to be good sports and that not everybody can be a winner. I've been entering tons of a giveaways, I haven't won a thing, but I'm not going to be bitter about it. I seriously doubt Shawn Johnson got any rewards or medals just for showing up to gymnastics class, otherwise she would not have made it to the Olympics. She didn't win the gold, but she didn't throw a hissy fit, she was a very good sport and held her head high and was happy for the girl who won, as she should have been.

    LoL, sorry for the vent, I just don't like the bitterness towards the so-called, over-achievers that I am seeing today. These hard working people are the ones who inspire me to want to be successful. I don't hate them, I admire them.



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