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by Ronald A. Rowe | June 4th, 2012 | Elementary

Everybody likes getting awards. If there’s one thing I like better than earning an award, it is seeing one of my sons do it. This weekend, my two sons each won an award for Leadership on their respective football teams. Saturday night, my elder son participated in a piano recital and earned a trophy, a medallion, and two certificates for assorted reasons like “musicianship” and “positive attitude”. The next day my two sons received three awards between them for completing a children’s program at our church.
As much as I appreciated my boys receiving recognition, it got me to wondering – are we over awarding?

If somebody gets an award, then everybody needs to get an award. If everybody gets an award then the best should get two. But then everyone should get two. But then … And that’s how my son ended up getting four awards at one recital.

But is over-rewarding and over-recognizing our kids a bad thing? It’s surely better than under-appreciating them, right? As with most parenting issues, it comes down to balance. Properly recognizing our children for their accomplishments is the goal.

This particular issue, however, is largely out of our direct control as parents. I can’t tell the piano teacher how many awards to give out. I’m certainly not going to insist on exempting my son from the awards. Since I can’t control the actual awards, it is my responsibility as a parent to ensure that my child has a healthy understanding of what his individual accomplishments mean in the scheme of life.

Make no mistake. Awards are great. Every child should have a chance to earn one. And at young ages, participation should be enough to earn a trophy. But as our children grow, the bar needs to be set higher and higher so that awards mean something and the children understand the nature of competition. Then the awards become a useful tool for children to develop the skills and discipline to succeed in their chosen field of endeavors.

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