It’s no secret that parents today like to overanalyze. We do it often—and more than any generation before us. We worry constantly—about the effects of too much screen time, the chemicals in our kids’ plastic dinnerware, the sugar in our kids’ cereal. Some of it is founded: One can hardly argue that children are no doubt safer wearing helmets when they ride their bikes or healthier when we monitor their intake of processed foods.
But some of our microanalyzing has gotten a wee bit out of control.
In the past two weeks alone, I’ve stumbled upon two articles (which you can read here and here), the gist of which, like many others out there, is that we are raising a generation of entitled, spoiled brats. How, you may ask? Because we award trophies to our three-year-olds after wrapping up t-ball season and grace our preschoolers with participation ribbons “just for showing up.” This, apparently, has devastating consequences to our children’s character and life choices.
But does it, really? Are we so naïve to think that a tiny metal object could wield such power over our kids that it affects who they grow to become?
I decided to explore this idea in three homemade (and very poorly illustrated) “books,” modeled after the best-selling children’s storybook series by Laura Numeroff. What really happens when you give a kid a trophy? Take a peek below to find out.
If you give a kid a trophy, he’ll ask to go out for ice cream.
If you take him out for ice cream, he’ll probably start expecting it on a regular basis. If he eats ice cream regularly, he’ll become obese and develop diabetes.
So, he’ll sit on his couch-chair and watch TV all day instead of playing outside.
Too much screen time means he will no doubt develop ADHD. He’ll be unable to sit still in school, and his grades will suffer.
If he doesn’t get good grades in elementary school, he won’t pass the STAAR test.
If he can’t pass the STAAR test, he won’t graduate from high school.
If he doesn’t graduate from high school, he won’t get into college. He’ll end up flipping burgers at a fast food joint.
One day at work, he’ll see a bunch of three-year-olds celebrating the end of their soccer season with tiny metal trophies. The trophies will instantly remind him of all of his life failures.
And chances are, if you wouldn’t have given him a trophy, he never would’ve decided to run off and join a cult.
If you give your daughter a participation ribbon, she’ll automatically assume she is a “winner.”
You’ll play Candy Land together, and she’ll accuse you of cheating every time. If you allow her to think she won when she didn’t, she’ll become a preschool-aged narcissist.
She’ll refuse to share her toys or take turns on the playground.
If she refuses to share or take turns, her teacher will label her a “problem child.” You’ll coddle her and tell her she’s not at fault (because that’s what parents who give their kids participation trophies do).
As she grows older, she’ll demand more things because she thinks she deserves them. And you’ll give in to her demands like the pushover parent that you are.
One day she’ll download the Whisper app on her new iPhone. She’ll meet a 28-year-old man who lives in a trailer and has a felony record. They’ll talk and agree to meet.
Approximately 10 months later, she’ll join the cast of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant.
When the baby is born, someone will send flowers with a “welcome to the world, baby!” ribbon. It will remind her of the participation ribbon she received when she was four years old.
And chances are, if you hadn’t given your daughter a participation ribbon when she was in preschool, she wouldn’t be a 16-year-old mom with a child named Earl Jr. whose daddy is in jail.
Or maybe, just maybe, this is a more accurate portrayal…
If you give your kid a trophy or participation ribbon, he/she will be really excited about it for the rest of the day.
He will come home and put the trophy on a shelf in his room, and she will pin the ribbon on her bulletin board.
And never think about it again.
And chances are, a six-inch trophy or pretty participation ribbon will have absolutely nothing to do with how your kids turn out.