After cleaning my 12-year old’s room, I found this pile of medals outside the door.
“What are these doing here?” I asked him.
“I don’t want them anymore,” he replied.
“You don’t want any of these? Why not?”
“There’s too many…”
This is exactly what I was talking about in this post. By awarding him a medal for “participating,” the medals mean nothing. Some of these medals are for winning, but because he got a medal whether he won or not, those medals are discarded just like the others.
Medals, ribbons and trophies meant something when I was a kid. It meant you performed better than the other kids. It meant you tried your best and was the best. It doesn’t matter if it’s the class spelling bee or a state-wide competition. The point is you worked hard, studied, trained, whatever…to earn that ribbon or medal. Only the select few were awarded them. And you were proud.
Fast forward to 2015: Kids don’t care about those awards because they’ve been taught that just by “participating” or “showing up,” they are deserving of something.
I’m not the only one with the “only winners get medals” mentality. A recent poll said 57 percent of Americans think only winners should be rewarded. But here’s where it gets interesting. When respondents were broken down by age, younger respondents (those 18-24) liked the idea of participation trophies, while the older generations thought the opposite. Is it because that’s how the younger generation grew up? Because that’s what we have taught them?
As I mentioned in my previous post, in the real world a reward for “showing up” or “doing your job” doesn’t exist. Why do we act like it does?