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Rewards or Rewarding?

I recently updated this as I meant to save as a draft before and not publish!  I have fat fingers sometimes.

There has been a lot of talk about giving awards to kids for everything.  I read articles stating that it rewards kids for being average and discourages them from trying harder to excel.  Well, pardon me but I’m the type of person who likes to knit-pick at everything so have patience while I sort some things out.  Also, remember this is just my personal opinion that I like to share with others.  I’m very open to other opinions.

When my son played community soccer, every team got exactly the same reward for playing.  No scores were kept at games and we coaches (yes, I coached 5th grade soccer) were not to keep track of wins and losses.  At the end of the season, all players got a little trophy.  The following is what I noticed as the season went on.

The kids were really powered up to practice and play at first.  They worked hard and prepared for the first game.  Before the game I explained that for community soccer, we didn’t keep track of scores or wins and losses.  I wanted them to know that so they wouldn’t be surprised when there was no fuss if they did win.  It deflated them.  After that, the practice sessions were more of a joking around time for them.  I know they still had fun, but they didn’t try as hard.  I regretted telling them I wasn’t keeping track of scores and wins, but I wanted them to hear it from me first.  I started making practice more of a challenge and we had contests during practice.   Who could dribble the farthest down the field?  Who could block more goals?  We  split into two teams and played  scored games!  They ate it up.

The thing is, kids love competition.  I think it’s a wonderful way to learn how to win and to lose.  How else do they learn except to experience it?  The whole theory that if every child doesn’t receive a reward it will hurt their self-esteem is a little off track, I think.  Of course, it depends on how it’s handled.  If the winners gloat, call names and make fun of the losing teams, then yes, it can be a bad experience.  If every child is told how awesome it was that they showed up and tried, that is usually good enough.  I do think that scores should be kept and that wins and losses tallied.  Let the winning team have the trophies.  Applaud the efforts of the other teams and let the experience be the reward.  Maybe next year, they will work harder for the win!  There is no shame in losing if you tried your best.  Kids need to learn how to lose without falling apart.  They need to figure out how to use the loss as fuel to give it another shot and work harder.  On the other side, kids need to learn how to win gracefully.  They can be very excited and proud without gloating and belittling others.

Rewarding experiences allow you to grow.  This applies for children and adults.  If you gave it your all, that is a wonderful reward.  You showed up and tried!


2 thoughts on “Rewards or Rewarding?

  1. We just finished coaching a fun league soccer league for our daughter. The kids kept track of the score of the games and we did not discourage them in that. We did encourage them to play with good sportsmanship. I had to tell one kid no name calling and my husband had to tell another not to let the other teams rile him up. We received medals and made sure to tell the kids how well they played all season.

    • So glad you let them keep track of scores! I agree that teaching sportsmanship is very important. I actually had a lot of fun coaching the kids. Thanks for stopping by!

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