Everyone Gets an Award: Celebrations of Mediocrity?

Cynthia Dermody
students winning awards

Photo by bandk4ever

I did it again last night. When my artistically challenged son drew a picture of his friend Sam for a homework project, I enthusiastically exclaimed, "Awesome job! That looks just like Sam! Way to go, your teacher will love that!"

But that was bold-faced lie. His teacher will not love that picture, nor does it look like Sam, or anything remotely human, for that matter. He took an orange crayon and drew a ball on a stick with little amoeba-like projections that I think are supposed to be arms and legs. Sam has no body to speak of, just a head and limbs. He also has orange skin, hair, and eyes, and I know for a fact that Sam is brunett.

Which means my son's picture was exactly the opposite of "awesome."

But still I said it because I couldn't help being the encouraging mom. Even though I truly believe that I shouldn't overpraise my son for less than stellar efforts. I want him to grow up in the real world, not be coddled and misguided into thinking he's doing a good job when he really isn't.

I always thought the same thing about those elementary school awards ceremonies where everyone gets an commendation. abstractmommy's husbands calls these "celebrations in mediocrity." He thinks it's wrong to award kids past pre-school for things they should be doing already, such as helping in the classroom or perfect attendance. He says it will set them up for a lifetime of disappointment since later on they will not be awarded for mundane tasks.

I kinda agreed until I read the response from sherry123:

"Those rules are set up to help children achieve success," she says. "Some kids need that mediocre award to feel like school is worth it. It's those kids that benefit the most. My son has struggled all the way through school. But you should see the smile when his teacher awards him something. It makes the difference between being a failure and being a success. Childhood is all too soon lost and competition in the world begins. These kids will be able to function regardless of the award. Some of them will even be better people because of it."

This make we want to cry.

Do you find yourself overpraising your child for things you don't think are all that great? Are you helping or hurting?


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