Welcome to Educated, Common Sense Parenting! This is my parenting education/commentary blog. Start here and read About This Blog.

I believe too many parents today have let their children rule their households. Their children dictate their daily lives, demand every ounce of their attention and do not show any respect for their parents. This needs to change. The only way to do this is if parents start letting good old common sense start dictating their parenting practices and stop letting their children run the show. You're the parent. Act like one.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Giving Everyone a Trophy and Other Dumb Things We Do

I am currently reading Gary Ezzo's 3rd book in the "Becoming" series, On Becoming Toddlerwise. Although I don't practice everything Ezzo's preaches, I love his old school, back-to-basics philosophy and his no-nonsense attitude towards parenting. He's not afraid to tell parents how it is--even if the truth hurts.

One of my favorite quotes in his books is from Toddlerwise when he talks about parents who are constantly trying to make their children happy (usually involves buying things for them), constantly trying to make sure their kid isn't sad...constantly trying to make everything "fair" for their child. He states in his book that instead of wasting your energy on all of this, "Train your child to learn to deal with disappointment. You cannot create a conflict-free environment.... [parents should] learn to deal with it."

To quote my favorite Bay Area talk show hosts Armstrong and Getty, "we have become a nation of veal-calves." Since when did we get so SOFT about everything? Take sports, for example. Since when is the one and only focus of school sports to have fun? Sure, run around and have fun but what happened to a little competitive spirit now and then? What about teaching our kids to be "good" losers? What about teaching them to master certain skills though patience, persistence and practice?

This doesn't just apply to sports. Although I agree that self esteem is a huge factor for how kids function mentally and socially, since when did we decide that an exorbitant amount of praise and not correcting our kids' mistakes for fear their so-called self esteem will be hurt, is the right thing to do? If my kid mispronounces a word or uses a word incorrectly, I correct her. I don't say, "No, you stupid idiot it's not RUNNED, it's RAN! God! You're so dumb! How are you ever going to function in society??!" That most likely would be a blow to her self esteem. But I do say, "You mean he RAN, right??" Or something like that. Hopefully she's not scarred for life.

My all time favorite indicator that we have become a nation of softies is when I hear stories about Little League teams that don't keep score or soccer tournaments where "everyone is a winner!" and every kid goes home with a trophy. Sure, that might be OK for 3 or 4 year olds--maybe. But as kids get older, here is the problem: when "everyone is a winner" what motivates kids to work harder? Sure, some kids may have the internal fortitude to be a hard worker, but others may need some pushing. And if you don't like competition, then don't play sports! Sports are BASED on competition. What would it be like to turn on Monday Night Football and have Al Michaels announce the two teams are not keeping score tonight. More than likely, sports fans would tune out.

I can tell you from the front lines at my school that kids these days are lazy. Their parents have become obsessed with making them happy and trying to make life FAIR for them they have forgotten that...you know what...life is NOT FAIR. You will not always get the promotion. You will not always be the prettiest person in your class or smartest person at work. So after being duped into thinking life is fair, these poor kids figure out when thet get into the real world that it's not. And what are they left with? Nothing. They have no idea how to handle disappointment. They are lazy, mad, spoiled and expect everything to be handed to them. If their parents hadn't been so obsessed with making everything happy and fair, they might have had some time to instill some actual FUNCTIONAL values into their child like hard work, patience, persistence, good sportsmanship and manners.

By the sound of this, it may seem as if I am a total hard-ass who just believes kids should sink or swim and not have any fun. That is not the case at all! (And those who know me can safely say I am nowhere near the definition of a "hard ass.") Self esteem is important to us all--everyone likes to feel good about themselves. And of course kids should have FUN--in fact, kids should be having fun 99% of the time. All I am saying is USE SOME COMMON SENSE!!! Yes, praise your child. Praise her every single day. Tell her you love her. Tell her she's the best kid in the whole wide world. Go to the park with her and play ball and don't keep score. On the flip side, within reason--correct your child if they do something wrong. Find a tactful, common sense way to do it. Don't be like a mom I saw at swimming lessons last week who stood at the edge of the pool for a half hour and screamed at her 4 year old for not doing something right. Again, use common sense. Teach your child to be a good sport, teach them to deal with disappointment--whether it's high school football or Candyland. You'll be doing them a huge favor when they are 30 and playing on their company's softball team....they'll know how to handle the situation when they don't get a trophy.


  1. There have been days though, when I think it would be so much easier if we lived in a socialist society ... :-)

  2. Of course I am kidding! Can't you hear the sarcasm in my words? :-)

  3. You could never be a socialist, Heidi--your hubby is an I-Banker! Ultimate capitalist!! :-)