We always hear about trophy wives – the cute woman with the great figure who is the older guy’s arm candy.
Well, I have been thinking about trophy kids–in fact, an entire trophy generation. I am not sure if this is a recent thing in America or if South Africa was just different. But I did not grow up getting a trophy for everything – including for just showing up.
It really struck me when I watched Temira’s four-year-old KinderDance class. While she was totally adorable, it was clear that the New York Ballet would not be courting her anytime soon. At the end of the show, everyone received a ballet trophy. It’s pretty much like that with everything – soccer, chess, and other extracurricular activities. This past Sunday, Meron played in a chess tournament and lost all four games. Still, he was so happy as he got a trophy just like the rest of the kids–those who finished 1st, 2nd and 15th all received a trophy. It concerned me that he was happy to lose because he was getting the trophy. Gavin took a photo of him with the trophy and, of course, the grandparents sent back immediate praise. After all, their little darling was proudly holding a trophy. They did not need the details – the picture said it all: “Gary Kasparov watch out!”
It had me pondering. My friend feels that it’s good to give every kid a trophy so that all of the kids feel they achieved something just by showing up and being a good sport. You see, I am not sure I agree. Life is more than just showing up. Life is also not perfect where everyone wins. I was at a class recently where the teacher was saying how we should not tell our kids they are beautiful or smart, but rather praise them for putting in effort and doing the best they could on a test. I am concerned that my trophy kids are not learning about real life. How do we teach our kids to strive and preserve in spite of challenges and to rise to the occasion to the best of their abilities? We all face real life situations where there is no trophy for second place, no spot in a coveted college program, the ideal job or a tough boss that criticizes more than complements. Are we preparing our children for the real world out there?
What do you think?
Originally published: June 9, 2010