Every Kid Needs a Trophy

Emotionally speaking, our kids today have one of the most challenging paths to adulthood of any generation in history.

My wife, Beth, finished the Cowtown Marathon in 2010. It took every ounce of willpower and determination she had to eek out a glorious 5-hour finish time in a puddle of sweat and tears.

Today, as we were cleaning out drawers, our 5 year old found her participants medal.

      “Mommy–did you get first place?!”

After a snarky laugh, the response came– “Sometimes, buddy, you get a medal just for not quitting.”

     ________________

Some people say our kids today are entitled.  That they’re too soft.  That they need a trophy for everything.

Maybe they do.

The race they are running isn’t the same one many of us coasted through 30 or 50 years ago.

Theirs runs
up mountains of expectations,
against the winds of financial hardship and class separation,
through rains of data-driven critique,
far from home,
alone from adult interaction,
lost in a cyber-world that threatens YouTube clips any time they trip or #fail.

Their race is not for the faint of Spirit.

Every distance runner knows that the worst part of any race is the head-game.  Of course they’re sensitive. But the fact that they are still running means they’re also courageous.  They may not be making record time. But just by their not quitting, we are witnessing cause for celebration.

It isn’t easy.  Disconnection and isolation can make even a comfy Suburban life seem impossibly difficult.

So cheer your kids on today.  They need you.  Resist those grumpy voices in your head from past generations that say you’re being too soft, that you’re encouraging entitlement, that youre making them too thin-skinned.

brandon-day-196392-unsplash

Trust me when I say– life in the 21st century will make them calloused enough without your help.

__________________

After 15 years of youth work, I have come to this conclusion: our kids are entitled. They are entitled to every drop of our scant praise, our scarce love and our meager encouragement to keep on running.  They are entitled because they are our kids. 

The course set for them is long and hard.  And we may just be witnessing the miracle of the human spirit with every graduation, every new class, and every next step.

patrick-fore-557732-unsplash

So give your kids a trophy.  Let love flow freely, and critique run dry.  And with your little morsel of praise to nudge them on, who knows what mountains they may conquer next?

3 thoughts on “Every Kid Needs a Trophy

  1. Your article on EVERY KID NEEDS A TROPHY is written with a voice of compassion and love. So glad you’re working with our youth. Love your sentiment and perspective on the unique struggles our youth have in today’s culture.
    I am a mother, grandmother and a retired elementary school teacher which gives me some perspective.
    I say this with love and hope you don’t hear this as a “grumpy voice” from the past.
    YES, children’s self esteem, for the most part, starts at home and hopefully continues in schools. They deserve and need our love, encouragement and praise. I don’t feel that I gave my own two children any exaggerated amount of encouragement or praise. I just expected certain things and they lived up to it. I suppose they just knew it was expected. I loved them and they knew it!
    I gave my class plenty of it because I loved them and they knew it so they lived up to my expectations! They felt they were the BEST CLASS in our school. All our children need loving encouragement.
    However, I’ve seen this lovingly misused by a parent when trying to instill in her children from birth to Grade 3 with a strong self esteem to protect them against the world.
    This parent misused the praise, tried to give lots of encouragement, but the boys misconstrued it as being corrected or not measuring up. There was so much of the cheering them on, rah!ra! rah! kind of attention, so overdone that there was no chance for them once they entered the real world and didn’t win that TROPHY, MEDAL or BLUE RIBBON for first place or weren’t chosen for the team by their peers. They always finished the race but thought they were entitled to the MEDAL for first place. They were truly devastated, crying, etc. and couldn’t deal with not being first and best or having a teacher dote on them. It wore on their self esteem. They were expecting all eyes on them! That was what happened to them in the real world. No matter how much love with which they came into the world this false sense of esteem was a handicap.
    They had to be resilient. And after a time they were. Thst was their well-earned Medal or TROPHY. Children are more resilient than you seem to recognize. These boys eventually taught themselves how to walk down that path Into the community by doing it on their own. Yes mother was at school volunteering, working at lunch counter etc. she was everywhere, watching over her boys as well as the staff, asked for a teacher change, etc. But they had the job of learning where self esteem comes from and their resilience earned them the real medal. They gained courage because they had to work through and problem solve. Which they have done so well. It built character.
    Their resilience had earned them self esteem and they climbed their mountain and it gave them the courage to climb that next mountain or run that uphill race. They are an example of the miracle of the human spirit and and I am still watching it unfold as they enter middle school. It might have not been such a struggle if the feeling of entitlement wasn’t there to trip them up in the first place.
    Of course they could not have done it so courageously without love and security from a loving family at home. That’s the cocoon that shelters all of us while we meet and solve the challenges of our world.
    Rah, rah, rah ! and huge hugs and much love to our beautiful, courageous, resilient children.
    They are entitled! ….to our love and encouragement 💗.

    Like

  2. Your article on EVERY KID NEEDS A TROPHY is written with a voice of compassion and love. So glad you’re working with our youth. Love your sentiment and perspective on the unique struggles our youth have in today’s culture.
    I am a mother, grandmother and a retired elementary school teacher which gives me some perspective.
    I say this with love and hope you don’t hear this as a “grumpy voice” from the past.
    YES, children’s self esteem, for the most part, starts at home and hopefully continues in schools. They deserve and need our love, encouragement and praise. I don’t feel that I gave my own two children any exaggerated amount of encouragement or praise. I just expected certain things and they lived up to it. I suppose they just knew it was expected. I loved them and they knew it!
    I gave my class plenty of it because I loved them and they knew it so they lived up to my expectations! They felt they were the BEST CLASS in our school. All our children need loving encouragement.
    However, I’ve seen this lovingly misused by a parent when trying to instill in her children from birth to Grade 3 with a strong self esteem to protect them against the world.
    This parent misused the praise, tried to give lots of encouragement, but the boys misconstrued it as being corrected or not measuring up. There was so much of the cheering them on, rah!ra! rah! kind of attention, so overdone that there was no chance for them once they entered the real world and didn’t win that TROPHY, MEDAL or BLUE RIBBON for first place or weren’t chosen for the team by their peers. They always finished the race but thought they were entitled to the MEDAL for first place. They were truly devastated, crying, etc. and couldn’t deal with not being first and best or having a teacher dote on them. It wore on their self esteem. They were expecting all eyes on them! That was what happened to them in the real world. No matter how much love with which they came into the world this false sense of esteem was a handicap.
    They had to be resilient. And after a time they were. That was their well-earned Medal or TROPHY. Children are more resilient than you seem to recognize. These boys eventually taught themselves how to walk down that path Into the community by doing it on their own. Yes mother was at school volunteering, working at lunch counter etc. she was everywhere, watching over her boys as well as the staff, asked for a teacher change, etc. But they had the job of learning where self esteem comes from and their resilience earned them the real medal. They gained courage because they had to work through and problem solve. Which they have done so well. It built character.
    Their resilience had earned them self esteem and they climbed their mountain and it gave them the courage to climb that next mountain or run that uphill race. They are an example of the miracle of the human spirit and and I am still watching it unfold as they enter middle school. It might have not been such a struggle if the feeling of entitlement wasn’t there to trip them up in the first place.
    Of course they could not have done it so courageously without love and security from a loving family at home. That’s the cocoon that shelters all of us while we meet and solve the challenges of our world.
    Rah, rah, rah ! and huge hugs and much love to our beautiful, courageous, resilient children.
    They are entitled! ….to our love and encouragement 💗.

    Like

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