To Reward or To Not Reward?

Rewarding youth for their participation in an event rather than gratifying them for skill and talent teaches children the idea that in life, they are always winners. Many people consider this to be a form of coddling, which can be damaging to children as they get older.


Many parents tend to comfort their kids with encouragement and praise when they fail. Parents don’t want to see their children upset, disappointed, or hurt when they don’t succeed. Other adult influences, such as sports coaches, tend to be sympathetic towards kids as well during seasons. Kids are coached with support in order to keep them happy during games, despite whether or not they’re winning. This is a, “type of positive reinforcement” according to Pennridge psychology teacher Mrs. Nash.


After experimenting and researching, it has been found that kids tend to believe they can do more when they are encouraged for their efforts on a topic. In an experiment where fifth graders were praised for their participation in performing IQ tests, 92% of them were inclined to take the second and more challenging test. Though this positive reinforcement seems productive, it is put in place in hopes to increase a behavior; in this case, the behavior would be participating in the test, rather than working hard and doing well.


The same goes for when children are given participation trophies at the end of a sports season. Instead of the players learning to accept their losses, they are being taught that they will always be rewarded, even when they are not deserving of it. It is damaging in life, as they will not be able to learn how to cope with failure. Learning that failure is disappointing, but a necessary part of life is important, and should be taught to kids at a young age.

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