A growing number of child sports leagues are giving out participation trophies for children who don't win. Many people claim that this rewards a child for losing. Is this the case, or do participation trophies have an inherent value? And should coaches and parents invest in custom participation trophies?
Not Winning Can Be Hard On Children And Parents
In America, there is a focus on winning that can border on an obsession. As a result, the idea that children need to win a contest, and not just enjoy participating, can be very tough on a child psychologically. It can make them feel like a "loser" or reinforce negative self-esteem ideas that cause them to suffer mentally.
Even worse, parents may feel disappointment in their children that can lead to a complex or difficult relationship. This is a big part of the reason participation trophies were created in the first place. The big debate about them centers on the idea of whether or not it is good psychologically for children or if it simply pampers them or encourages a losing mindset.
Participation Trophies May Not Be A Bad Idea
Many psychologists have argued that focusing so heavily on winning can be a major detriment to a child's mental development. They believe that it is important to praise a child for their hard work and to encourage them to get better, rather than put them down as "losers." Of course, few coaches or parents are directly insulting children who lose, but the insult is implied in the heavy focus on winners.
The idea of participation trophies is to simply support a child's talent and their effort to compete. Getting a participation trophy isn't the same thing as winning, and most children understand that. The truth is that children are a lot smarter than most people assume and they understand participation trophies just fine. However, they still appreciate being praised for their hard work.
Custom Trophies Can Be A Nice Boost
Should coaches or parents take the time to create custom participation trophies? Absolutely. Custom trophies add a touch of personalization that makes them more rewarding than getting a generic trophy. Giving children the exact same participation trophy is likely to have the negative effect by making them feel like an afterthought to the competition.
Most importantly, parents and coaches should take the time to come up with unique titles for each trophy. For example, they could give a trophy for "most hustle" for a child who played in a determined manner. Other trophy ideas, such as "most improved," break the stigma of participation trophies and make a child more likely to appreciate the award.
So anyone who is debating participation trophies for their child sports league should take the time to get them customized. Though it will cost a little more than getting generic models, it is worth the investment for a child's psychological comfort. To learn more about custom award trophies, talk to companies like Abilene Awards & Logos.