Participation Medals- Do we need them?

So with a lot of heat, tears and discussion, I just debated on the phone the importance/need for Participation medals for our kids. (Not my Kids, obvz)

I was very tired, and got very emotional so that tears sprung thus. However, even though it’s not exactly a personal issue for me; I never suffered from the trauma as a kid from not being given enough participation medals. However, I did get very involved in my declarations for niceness and encouragement in the competitive sphere. My nemesis over the phone maintained the stiff position that kids should be rewarded according to their achievement, and reasoned that kids nowadays get an extortionate amount of participation medals, whereas we only got given a handful growing up which is why it wasn’t harmful for us.

It’s a very interesting debate; should we reward children every time they take part in a competition even if they don’t win?

I started my tirade against the cold-hearted in society by voting yes.

Participation medals are crucial in instilling the correct values growing up, because they reward children for all the other important aspects of competing in an event. When a child enters a competition or a race, their’s so much more that they gain other than just winning; the confidence boost, the thrill of competing, and the character development they gain from taking part, winning or losing. There’s more to get out of a race or competition than winning, and children should be encouraged to see that. Their mind should not be so focused on winning that when they lose it, is as if the sky has crashed like a tonne of disappointment on their heads. A participation medal shows a child that they should be rewarded for taking part, and hopefully encourage them to take part in other competitions that perhaps don’t have participation medals; then even if they don’t win it doesn’t matter; that’s not the only thing (despite the saying.)

I don’t think handing out participation medals demotivates kids for future life either, but then, we weren’t given them in excess.  We want to encourage kids, not demoralise. If you never give kids a participation medal then they’ll think that winning is all that counts, and then if they don’t think they have a chance of winning, what would motivate them then?

The very tired and sore ear down the phone voted no however.

I was countered with that it is damaging for children to always be given participation medals, and that kids nowadays were put out and disappointed when, even after trying their hardest and winning, they were given the same prize as the loser; ergo, the loser felt like they didn’t deserve their medal and the winner felt cheated out of a proper and celebrated victory.

The point does stand; if you reward kids all the time for however well they do, children will start to feel slighted, or confused at how the system works. They also made the point that a participation medal shouldn’t be necessary in making a child feel rewarded, for the thrill and buzz of competing should be sufficient, negating the need for a medal as supplement.

However, in the same way as the argument can be made that taking part should be a reward in itself, one could counter and say, well why isn’t winning a reward in itself? Why do you have to be the only one to be rewarded for that to count?

It’s important to reward those for winning to boost their understanding of how merit works, but on the other hand it’s vital to show kids that there’s so much more to life than winning.

We need to give kids permission to fail.

Of course on that note, we could turn the coin around and say maybe giving kids loads of participation medals means we’re not giving them permission to fail; for woe be the kid that fails, instead we hastily thrust them a participation medal!

It’s very interesting. I’m not sure which side I agree with.

I think kids should be given participation medals every once in a while, to get everyone involved and show them all that there’s more to competitions than winning, and that they can be fun and rewarding in other ways. I do think events like Sports day, and Poetry Recital competitions in Primary Schools though should all have medals strictly for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Some competitions should be strictly meritocracy friendly, and adhere to a first place for winners rule, but would it hurt to involve all kids once in a while, in a knees up shingdig where everyone gets a participation medal? I don’t think so.





Published by toobusytowrite

My page is called “too busy to write” because we all think we are. Where you’ve been and who you’ve met may be nothing but something to fall asleep on now, but in 40 odd years they will be the stuff you try and remember.

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