Some ask whether feel-good trophies are actually good for children
When a youth basketball league in Framingham finishes its season next month, every fifth- and sixth-grader will receive a shiny trophy. Even those on the last-place team.
''We want them to be happy and come back to play the following year," said the Temple Beth Am Brotherhood league's director, Rich Steckloff.
In communities across Boston's western suburbs, at the end of long seasons on the soccer pitch, hoop court, or baseball diamond, kids are getting trophies not for winning championships, but for simply participating.
Some say there's no harm in awarding trophies to all, that it's a reward for playing a sport that keeps them fit. And it's hard to argue with the warm feeling a parent gets when their wide-eyed child receives a prize.
But others have raised questions about whether getting trophies so easily is the best thing for youngsters.
''There is something inherently good about trying to raise kids' feelings about themselves, but there has to be balance," said Leonard Zaichkowsky, a Boston University professor and director of its sport and exercise psychology training program, shared by BU's schools of education and medicine. ''We also have to teach kids to be mentally tough, to take criticism, to experience failure, to learn that somebody wins and somebody loses.
''We have to take teachable moments to reach kids and explain that there are going to be setbacks and losses, and to be able to cope with that," he said.
Roy Baumeister, a professor of psychology at Florida State University, said the trophy explosion was a product of the self-esteem movement, which began in the 1970s and gained momentum in the '80s with promises of more successful children. The movement started to unravel a decade later, when questions were raised about its results
, said Baumeister, who has specialized in self-esteem issues.
Baumeister said feel-good trophies don't serve any purpose
''The trophies should go to the winners. Self-esteem does not lead to success in life. Self-discipline and self-control do
, and sports can help teach those," he said.Full Article