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I’m The Lady That Wants To Make Your Kid Cry: Momversation Trophies

I’m thrilled to share with you my first Momversation. I think you’ll see that in spite of the husband harassing I managed to not get the lighting not quite right. There is clearly a vlogging learning curve and I’m on the newbie end of it.

Regardless, it’s a compelling discussion. Do your kids get too many trophies? Did they earn them?

16 thoughts on “I’m The Lady That Wants To Make Your Kid Cry: Momversation Trophies”

  1. Jess, I think you did a great job.

    I hate the “trophies for everything” day and age we are in… I think it has created the “Gimmie Generation”. Really, I can understand when they are little, like to ages 4 and 5. However I believe when they are older not encouraging competition, creates apathy and sloth.

    But (and not to incite political debate) I disagree with your statement that “…no one is getting a raise for being an average employee” unfortunately, this is exactly what our current administration seems to be doing.

    Isn’t the term “Leveling the playing field?” ;)

  2. To me leveling the playing field means that everyone gets the same chance, that everyone starts from the same point. There’s nothing wrong with everyone getting to start at the same line. What you do with that chance is what sets you apart.

    Trophies for all? I see it as a big MEH, but then my kid’s sports so far is AYSO soccer, the whole point of which is to give kids an introduction, to give all kids the same chance. If a parent or child wants more than that then they move to the next level of sports.

    Some parents like the idea of trophies for their kids, and it’s not really my business why they want that. I know that my kids don’t really care that much and that the trophies they have don’t really mean anything more than a reminder of that season and the fun they had playing. I’d prefer not to shell out the eight bucks, but I’m also not going to opt out and have my kid be the only one not to get one.

    When I’ve been the coach and passed out participation trophies I made a point of singling out each kid and telling everyone something about that child so that it was almost as though the trophy meant something. One kid was the team/season star while another kid worked harder than the rest. Another kid was the most improved and so on.

    To take this topic in a different direction, what about a discussion of the idea that sport and school have no business being attached so firmly to each other?

  3. As a teacher, I was pressured by my admin to give awards out quarterly to as many kids (all really) as possible. I worked with teachers who did it just to keep parents/admin off their backs. I would explain to my students that awards should be special and earned. I did give out a lot of awards but every kids earned it. I worked hard to make sure they worked hard and to the best of their ability. None of my students ever complained.

    On the flip side, I saw kids who worked and showed up and never got awards. It broke my heart to see them go into awards assemblies so hopeful and leave so crushed.

    There is no easy answer for this. Kids should have to be reach high and work hard, but when their reach is never going to match the effort they so obviously put in – do we say “Tough luck”?


    I sat there with drool running down my chin last year at my boys’ award ceremony. My oldest got 15 (!!!) awards. WTF? I mean perfect attendance and honor roll are one thing, worthy of recognition. But it’s almost as if they created a generic category (or three) so no one would be left out. The only one over the years that we are really truly feel is a major accomplishment is when he won the school spelling bee and went to compete in the city bee.

    It really is getting out of control, not to mention the clutter it brings into the home. As a mom of 3, I want to keep certain things. I can’t keep every Duck Duck Goose Participant ribbon and You Turned In All Of Your Work certificate that comes home. It lessens the meaning of true accomplishments they bring home in their eyes and in my experience.

  5. Amen.

    As you know, I interview hundreds of young adults each year- many of which were all raised “getting a trophy” for everything they ever did.

    As kids who were given kudos and high fives for simply exisiting, they are now entering the work force thinking a bachelors degree has earned them an executive position and a six figure salary.

    I am also seeing another scary trend- these “young adults” who also have their parents calling them every morning to wake them up. Parents calling college professors to argue a grade, parents calling employers (like me) when their adult child is terminated or asking for vacation time.

    I am looking to raise a child that thrives in the face of adversity.

    A child that is confident of his skills and aware of things he has to work harder at to master. A child who picks himself up and refocuses when things don’t go well.

    I don’t see where empty praise or “participation” trophies fit in to any of that.

  6. The playing field is level on Day 1 of every class in school. They all start out with A’s. It’s what they do with the A by the end of the semester that matters. My parenting skills were recently called into question by a “mother” and I use that term very loosely, who thought I was a bad mom for “forcing” my daughter to participate in household chore duties like a slave because she was not compensated for them. I called it being part of a family. Everyone pitches in to make the whole house a better place to live. We all take personal responsibility for starters, with OUR OWN BEDROOMS! She was irked at me, because I made my daughter keep her room clean. To be fair and consider the “source”, the woman, again, term used loosely, is a lazy leech on the ass of society, her lifetime achievement award? She gets one for having 6 kids with 5 different dads, abandoning the first 2 by simply saying she had to run to the post office and never came back, and raising the middle 3 on welfare, none of those 3 had the same father, and the 6th one who is just starting high school is being raised by his father. My husband has less than a year to teach her 5th youngest how to be a man, I am teaching him school so he can actually graduate and also teach him proper hygiene and what being in a family actually means. He may end up marrying our daughter, and we want to make sure he’s marriage material, so he’s here getting a crash course in being a responsible member of society.

    There are way too many parents WAY too busy to bother to teach their children anything. They don’t want the responsibility of real parenting so they lay all the crap on the schools expecting them to teach morality, and math all in the same day.

    My daughter cheered for 5 years for the local hometown football team. The boys job was to practice really hard so they coud EARN a place on first string and have more game time than the kids who “wanted to play but either lacked motivation, talent or a combo of both”. Those parents were the jerks yelling at the coaches to put their kid in. The coaches were there to teach sportsmanship, reward for hard work, and by golly we went undefeated for 3 years straight. Those boys cried when they got that superbowl trophy, because it had hours of hard work, sweat and sheer willingness to work harder than the fluffy other teams were attached to it. Our cheerleaders took that same achievement just as hard when they took 2nd at nationals. The trophy at the year end party they all got was fine. It represented they did attend practices and games, but the girls who were up at 7am on a Saturday going over a dance routine for 4 hours before they had to attend the football game that day and cheer alongside the non competition girls knew they had gone the EXTRA mile and earned it. Those girls had so much emotionally invested in their hard work, they may not have won first place, but that 2nd place trophy still brings tears to my daughter’s eyes if you ask her about it today. She was only 13. Every single girl was sobbing over a 2nd place trophy because of how hard they had worked and while 2nd place wasn’t first place, to them it made no difference, they had outshined the COMPETITION. Yeah, a REAL competition, with winners AND losers.
    HUGE life lesson. She chose not to cheer in high school and instead focus only on academics, and it may not be “fair” but her college tuition was cut in half because her grades were so outstanding. She had learned hard work equals reward. Not just showing up equals reward. Now in college, where she could easily sleep in 4 days a week and miss that Calculus class once in a while, she would never let herself. She checked in with her professors, just to get an idea of where she stood with her grades. She is on track to get straight A’s. She never misses one lecture, or one opportunity to visit the TA’s and ask questions. In her chemistry class, she is so intent on impressing her professor, she sits in the center down in the front 3 rows so that the professor has to see her face every single lecture. She has made it a point to not be a number. She knows this is paying off, as her chemistry professor was walking past her on the opposite end of campus and greeted her by name. That professor has over 500 students just in that ONE class she is in. How do you stand out in a sea of 500 kids? Well, my daughter decided that she was going to be visible, show up to office hours just to check in and never miss out on an opportunity to outshine the competition. She is competitive. She wants to be the TA now, as a freshmen. She wants the highest grade in class. She was not happy NOT being the valedictorian in high school. She tried, she came close, but Karen beat her fair and square. They are still friends and Karen is at Yale this year. But I can tell you that my daughter sits in the lounge of her dorm every weekend, watching the young women dress in their shortest and skimpiest outfits, do their hair and makeup and head off the to frat houses to party down. My daughter watches tv while getting ahead on her calculus or chemistry homework. Sure, she may miss out on the bonding of hangovers, late assignments and mediocre grades, those girls will probably be at graduation too, but they won’t be delivering any speeches. They won’t be wearing anything that distinguishes them from the sea of other average kids. DO YOU want to take your kid to the DR who graduated with all C’s or the DR who graduated with honors and actually paid attention and worked really hard?
    So they may shed a few tears one year because they didn’t win first place, if they learn the lesson from it, they’ll be back again to work harder and try again for that elusive blue ribbon. My daughter will not accept mediocre from herself. She was taught that if you don’t work HARD you don’t achieve your goals. You end up asking questions at work like, would you like fries with that at 45 yrs old. She will be running a crime lab somewhere impressing the hell out of her colleagues.
    Ok, now I’m just making this too long. Stop letting the sports teams and school competitions lack the major component that makes them competitive. Go to the PTA meetings and demand that if they insist on being touch feely and giving all the kids ribbons, that they be a different color than the ones who EARNED 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. GIVE THOSE 3 KIDS 2 ribbons. Let them bask in their moment. Set them apart, tell ALL the kids why their work was chosen above the others. Let those little kids see WHY their mediocre project only got the boobie prize that really held no true reward in it. They’ll get the message.
    One side note to my parenting style. When my daughter would be punished for poor effort at school and the progress report would come home with C’s on it, we had a conversation about what grades are for. Had she done her BEST. Had she done EVERYTHING she could and she just was unable to get better than a C? The answer she gave was never yes. So those came out halfway through the quarter. My daughter was not grounded and had her ipod or wii taken away, nope. She went to after school tutoring offered by her teachers for the REST OF THE QUARTER UNTIL GRADES CAME OUT. She and I both knew she didn’t need tutoring, but I made her go anyway so that she would understand that if she did her work she could spend 2 hours a day less at school half the year. She would cry, tell me how horrible I was, didn’t I realize how hard it is to be her age? The kid received recognition at junior high graduation for maintaining a 4.0 gpa for both years of junior high. Her black robe had a very visible and brightly colored large sash that hung down, she had also been acknowledged in front of the entire graduating 8th grade class of over 800 students. All the whining and moaning and groaning about how sucky it was to be my kid stopped that day. I kept telling her for 2 years that she had to learn NOW the life skills she would need later as an adult, and I was not a mediocre mom, I wasn’t going to fail her. She wasn’t going to call me up in 20 yrs and blame me for her crappy minimum wage job. NOPE. I was going to teach her the hard work pays off lesson. Maybe the moral to this whole subject is simply this, (sorry I couldn’t think of it earlier), our jobs as parents is not to be our kids friend and make them travel through childhood without any tears, but to wipe off the tears, give em a hug and then let then feel the sting of defeat. It builds character. I repeatedly told my daughter through many punishments that unfortunately, I wasn’t going to fail her. SHE HAD to be punished, it was my JOB and I wasn’t going to let her down, no matter what it took I was going to teach her all the crappy life lessons now, so later she wouldn’t have to learn them the hard way. She never quite knew what the hell to say back to me with that line. She just swallowed the tears, accepted her short term fate and decided to listen to how to avoid the consequences. Our house rule: You choose the behavior, you choose the consequence. She also knows now as an adult, that college professors don’t send home notes to mom, so SHE is in their office now checking on her own grades. She got the message! I did it! I gave the world a hardworking member of society. Please, don’t send me a ribbon for just participating. The season isn’t over yet. I’ll get my reward when she does, at college graduation, when she realizes as she stares out among the sea of her fellow classmates and realizes the prize is much, much sweeter when you EARN IT.

  7. Seriously, your hair looks fabulous!

    Aiden received a trophy for tumbling last year. However, he earned it by being the only 3 year old competing. It was such a cute moment.

    Being the girl who got a trophy in bowling when my score was a 14…not so cute.

  8. My five year old has many, many talents. Soccer is not one of them. She played (and I use the term very generously) last season without ever kicking the ball. She either sat on the sidelines drawing words in the dust or twirled on the field counting clouds. She got a shiny big ole trophy at the end. What does that teach her about the things she does beautifully and brilliantly with joy and commitment? I hate the whole over trophy-ed thing. I want my children to have a lifetime of rewards…that they deserve.

  9. When you said you dipped your toes into vlogging, I didn’t know you meant Momversation. Of course, when you do something, you do it up. Great job!
    I’ve read some of Alfie Kohn’s “punished by rewards” work and I buy into his philosophy, which seems to be yours, as well. I think these participation trophies are BS, for the most part, and that we do children a disservice when they are rewarded for mediocre performance. This is not to say that every child has the potential to be a soccer star, but each child has an opportunity at school, home and on the field to work hard and improve their performance, and rewarding children who aren’t putting in effort is teaching them a bad lesson.

  10. So, did you get a trophie? I’m with you, and partly just because I don’t have a spare wall for all the trophies since I’d like my kids to try a lot of sports. We also have the extras in the garage my husband ends up with as a coach. I really don’t think kids will cry if they don’t get trophies, just like goody bags – sure, a few kids and parents might expect them, but it’s not going to cause a backlash. Although a friend joined an “academy” which is about learning soccer from a professional coach, and not getting cute uniforms and trophies. She’s now regretting her decision.

    I’m having the problem of my 5 year old and another little girl on their U6 team scoring all the goals, and the parents on the opposing teams try to be nice while clearly resenting the fact that they are dominating the field, as if we brought in a 5 year old ringer. Meanwhile the kids are having fun, they could care less. Perhaps I should remind the parents that their kids will still get a trophy.

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