From birth until death positive recognition is something that everyone wants in this life and because of this we are destroying the power of truly being recognized. There has been a shift in the past 10 years from recognizing exceptional talent to recognizing participation. This shift has created a booming need for 12th place ribbons and participation trophies, but has done nothing to prepare people for a competitive world where they will only be positively recognized for outstanding achievement.
Case in point, the Mayor of Beechwood Ohio cancelled the Little League All Star game because having an All Star team hurts the self esteem of the children who do not make the team.
We live in a society where we are now preventing our children from rejection and attempting to make them believe that everyone is equal in talent and skill. We are a society that does not prepare out children for adulthood or the professional world and then wonder why other countries are closing if not surpassing the once existing professional achievement gap. We are a society that doesn’t think our children can recognize that other kids have talents that they do not have, and are ok with it.
I will say it again, we are not all created equal when it comes to skill, learning that you will not be recognized for mediocrity until you are an adult is too late, and our children are smarter than we give them credit for and know when the recognition we are giving them is not deserved.
Sheltering kids, or adults for that matter, from rejection to protect self esteem is asinine, because we learn through failure and rejection more than we do through success. Overcoming failure is a greater boost to self esteem than you saying “good job” for essentially doing nothing. Not recognizing outstanding achievement in order to protect the self esteem of those lesser skilled is even more ridiculous because we are now making excellence a non-achievement.
Competition is a positive for children when it is presented the right way because we are training them for a competitive world. In a competitive world their will be people who are recognized for greatness, while others will go unnoticed for being good. In a competitive world you will have to deal with not feeling that good about yourself while having to build that self-esteem yourself.
If we truly care about the self-esteem of children we will prepare them while protecting them, not just protect them alone. We will allow them to understand how the world works outside of your protective arms. We will let our kids know that they do not deserve positive recognition for simply showing up and participating, but earn positive recognition through special achievement.
If we fail to encourage exceptional achievement and the recognition that comes with putting forth such efforts, we might as well train our kids to accept watching others surpass them in the world, where there are no 12th place ribbons.