He’s gone folks. The shiny blue first place ribbon that used to mean something. His time of death was called many years ago, but never fear, he has been replaced by an equally shiny participation ribbon and there are plenty to go around! Why? Why was it so evil to give children ribbons or awards that patted them on the back for actual achievements. Now, everyone remains the same and ribbons are given to all. What is this teaching our children though?
Let’s say that little Johnny works his rear off on his science project. He starts planning from the minute the assignment is given, toils away on the design of his board and carries out his project to perfection. On the day of the science fair he beams with pride as he waits for the judges to come around and see his project. Now, let’s say that little Susie waited until the last possible moment to start her project. She rolled some pennies and glitter around in glue, threw them at the board and created a half-hearted project that looks like it was put together by Picasso. She is less eager to show off her design to the judges, but breathes a sigh of relief that at least the project got done.
The judges come around. They spend a good 30 minutes quizzing Johnny and he is able to answer all of their questions. You can tell they are clearly impressed with his project. They get around to Susie, who is not able to answer any questions relating to her project, and the judges quickly walk away.
A short time later, the ribbons are handed out and Johnny’s heart drops when he sees that ribbon of participation hanging from his science project board. He looks over at Susie’s half-hearted attempt and she too has the same shiny ribbon and is beaming with pride herself now. She has managed to get the same award and recognition as Johnny, but with little effort.
What is this hurting? It is hurting those who work hard because they see that there is no value in working hard when even those who don’t try at all will be rewarded. It also tells those who don’t try at all, that they don’t need to, since they will all receive the same recognition in the end. The truth is, this is not how the real world works folks. There are shiny blue first place ribbons in the real world and only those who work hard and put forth effort will prevail.
When did it become necessary to coddle our children and tell them that everything they do is perfect? “Oh, good job pooping in the potty Jimmy, I do believe that is the best poop I have ever seen.” Yes, it sounds ridiculous and it is, but it is the equivalent of what we are telling children every day. Instead, we should be showing them that if they want to succeed in life that they will have to work hard, harder than others at times and that no one is going to be there to constantly praise their every move when they get older. Is it okay to praise your child? Of course, but not for nonsensical things. Not when they haven’t done something truly worth praising. Otherwise, what is the praise even worth?