I had an interesting conversation yesterday with one of my year 8 boys. We were doing a spelling bee and I still had some fantales left over from my birthday the day before, so I said, “Each team member from the winning team will get a lolly!”
So it was Game On.
After the spelling bee was done and won, a boy from the losing team looked at me, shocked, as I threw a lolly to each winning team member and then put the lolly bag away.
“Don’t we get a lolly?” he asked.
I laughed. “No,” I said. “Your team lost.”
“But we should get a lolly too,” he said. “For participation.”
Little did he know that saying that to me was like a red rag to a bull.
I hate the whole “give kids a medal/certificate/prize just for turning up.” It cheapens the whole joy of kids actually achieving success and winning a prize because they EARNED it. Participation prizes are a ridiculous, namby-pamby way of trying to bolster children’s self esteem by giving them a totally skewed way of knowledge about how the world operates. And anyway, kids already know this. How many kids actually save and treasure their participation medals? It’s the first, second and third medals or the “best on ground” medals that they really value. They know the Participation prizes mean nothing.
Anyway, this boy didn’t receive a lolly and when he started to chuck a tanty about not getting one (because this is EXACTLY the spoiled sense of entitlement that these participation prizes foster) he got into trouble. It’s a shame because he clearly had no experience so far in life at actually missing out on anything because he and his team didn’t measure up. He was genuinely shocked that he wasn’t getting rewarded. What are we teaching our kids?