Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Inclusively Exclude

Inclusively Exclude: verb. To try to include every child in everything, but sacrificing other valuable lessons in the process.

Husband has often said that giving everyone a trophy is not right and we are raising generations of children who grow up with a sense of entitlement. I really think there is some truth in this.

Monkey Son #1 was watching one of his children's shows today in which one character was trying to put together a baseball team. He was holding tryouts and trying to find the best players for his team. As he was holding the tryouts, he came across another character that was just awful. He never hit a ball. When he tried to throw, the ball went behind him. When he tried to catch, the ball hit him or went between his legs.

Obviously, the character holding the tryouts did not want this terrible player on his team. But what happens? The one putting the team together learns that everyone should always be included no matter what and it would hurt the player's feelings if he was not allowed to be on the team.

Excuse me? That is the lesson? Let me be perfectly clear. I am all for raising a child's self-esteem. I am not saying it is OK to exclude people on a whim. However, to allow people to do something just because they want to? You should always give people what they want or you may hurt their feelings? Sorry, but that is not the way the world works and we are doing our children a disservice by letting them think so.

So, the character putting the team together "learned" that it is only right to include everyone. But what did the player learn? Sadly, not a darn thing. No one told him that he should practice if he intends to get better. No one told him that he can work at his skills, then try out again later. No one told him that he really needs to work so that he can become a valuable member of the team. Instead, this is what happened: he tried out for the team and seemingly fully expected to be chosen. When he realized he wasn't, he walked around whining and crying about how he can't do anything right until he is finally allowed to be on the team.

What about dedication? What about building self-esteem and character through hard work? What about handling disappointment with some grace? The only thing I saw in this episode was teaching children that they should expect to always be included no matter what. Go ahead and give them their trophy now.

No comments: