Overcompensating with Reward

Today’s inspiration came to me as I dropped my daughter off at school.  We were having a lovely chat about what the last week had in store for her and we arrived to find a certain student who has been less than kind to my daughter.  I purposely slowed our walk and then stopped us to say goodbye and have our parting words. I wanted some space between them so she could start her day on a positive note. Luckily she saw a wonderful woman on staff who has always treated her so well and she ran up to greet her. As I “pepped talked” her away, I was inspired for today’s post.

Today I’m making my own connection between bullying and the oft-claimed “ridiculous” practice of rewarding children for merely participating in events.  We see in school, in sports, in community events children receiving recognition via ribbons, certificates, trophies, awards, gifts, compensation of some sort.  This type of system is often criticized by many as creating “monsters” among our children who begin to expect some type of “take” when they “give”.  Our children expect some type of swag just for entering a contest, race, finishing school, doing everyday chores.

I will admit I have noticed this trend getting bigger in recent years.  Often, even if you “sign up” for something, you get a tshirt or wrist band, some connecting factor. You are often put in a prize tier if you raise money for a cause. We have created ribbons for 1-6, and “participant”. Even my daughter’s own soccer league gave out a trophy at the end of the year and they didn’t even keep score all year!

Why have we created such a “reward” based system? Well, here are my own thoughts as lightning bolted into my head this morning and after absolutely no research whatsoever: if bullying is worse, stronger, more rampant and chips away at self esteem, we have created a way of “compensating” for this loss by building it up under the guise of personal accomplishment.

You may completely disagree. That is perfectly fine and likely you have the real reason, because like I said, I only just thought of this after a self-awareness moment of my verbally pumping up my daughter’s self esteem as we avoid a student on the playground.

I’m not saying we have to stop acknowledging personal triumph, winning, or even participation in academics and sporting events.  We as adults have noticed our children needing encouragement and found a way to fill some voids. Nothing is really wrong with this concept.

If I buy into my idea for a minute, I would say we need to attack the problem first, not bandaid the wound after it has happened.  Yes, there are lots of anti-bullying programs which I completely support. We also need to educate ourselves as parents to recognize signs. We need to empower our kids to report incidences and have the senior students take leadership roles and help advocate for the younger ones. I do believe strides are being made. (My daughter told me, we are working on strategies)

I also have no problem with a parent filling up that glass. I can’t ignore that even with vigilant teachers, students, and strategies in place, bullying will still happen. Nothing is wrong with bolstering your child’s self esteem and showing love

I guess I’m wondering aloud if children are the culprits, children need to be the solution. We swoop down and fix the problems others create, but we should be finding solutions so it doesn’t happen in the first place.

I started this blog entry trying to connect bullying to an over compensatory rewards system. There may be no connection at all. I still think a ribbon or a trophy is an appropriate acknowledgement of success. I think I need to find a balance between earning a goal and just handing them over for “showing up” as a means to make up for a problem that was created with no connection to the activity.

That is how I’m rambling today.


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