We ask the tough questions and you answer…

An ongoing topic of debate is the fact that some schools and sports clubs award kids with participation medals just for turning up.

After reading a recent blog by The Meddler explaining how during a visit at a relative’s house her daughter saw her cousin’s collection of award ribbons it had us nodding our heads in agreement.

“Out of 13 ribbons, not one single strip of fabric had been awarded for actually winning anything. They were all participation, highly commended or finalist ribbons – handed out to every student in the school, it seems – for simply “showing up”, The Meddler explained.

“What’s the point?! We don’t get a pat on the back for doing the bare minimum in the real world, so why are some schools giving kids ribbons of achievement for simply participating?

“It’s not just the fact that they don’t deserve it, and that this type of thing encourages entitlement and apathy, that bothers me. It’s the fact that these kids are genuinely being robbed of that incredible feeling of satisfaction that comes with being “the best”.

A UK mum refused to accept her sons school attendance award, explaining that she won’t allow him to accept the award – because, she says, “being lucky enough not to get sick” isn’t something to celebrate. (Read more here)

In junior football leagues now they have scrapped score lines and are introducing a “mercy rule” for junior teams being flogged by huge margins. The idea behind it is to stop kids from under 12s to under 16s losing heart and giving up the game – read more on that here.

The big question is – why do we feel that all children need to be sheltered from loss or disappointment and always rewarded and recognised for everything and anything? Why do we feel the need to punish those that truly deserve to be rewarded and instead hand out rewards for whatever might make little Tommy smile. Does it not take away the true meaning of a reward?

We asked you what you thought of the reward and recognition certificates often handed out in Primary schools

Here are just a couple of examples of  rewards for Respect, Honesty and Integrity, Learning, Safety and Care & Understanding….

*For returning lost property to a teacher on duty.
*For recommending a series of books that has become very popular in class.
*For holding the door open.
*For attending a book launch
*For always being organised

While some of you thought these rewards were a bit pointless and the behaviour should be totally expected not rewarded, others noted that it is great for teachers to find a reason to reward all kids in the class for some reason or another. I actually don’t think that is the case though to be honest. Neither of my boys have received many awards during Primary School so I don’t think (in our case anyway) that teachers try and do it to reward each student over time. I feel it needs to be a more consistent approach from teachers as I have found over the years some focus on it more than others and it can be quite a mixed message as well at times.

Related – OUTRAGE Footy league to shield junior players from “blowout defeats”


– “Hahaha ummm no These behaviours should be expected”
– “Sounds like kids getting rewarded for contributing to society or being generally decent. You should do those things without being rewarded. Wait till they get in the real world.”
– ” If they get certificates for every little thing then they won’t understand when they don’t get one for something they think is worth the reward.”
– “For me it would depend on a lot of things. If the school has had a lot of trouble with lack of manners, recognising good manners can be the start of a movement towards an improved school culture. A small reward for ‘expected’ behaviours with more prestigious awards for outstanding behaviours can help in that regard.”
– “Maybe a recognition sticker or stamp but not a certificate for those basic common sense/basic manners things.”
-“Hmm i think they sound like being recognised for generally doing things i would expect of my children anyway. I prefer only giving a reward for something that is truly deserving.”
– “Kids need to learn you don’t just get a prize for turning up!!!!”

A good reminder though, “You need to remember while we expect these behaviours not all parents teach them.”

Does your school do participation awards?

Share your comments below

Image via Getty

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  • I agree that its not required simply for taking part and children should not be appluded simply for turning up.


  • I don’t agree with participations awards because you should learn about winning and losing and it’s bet to start that when the stakes are low. I do agree with acknowledging good behaviour. It might be what we would expect as adults but they’re learning and positive reinforcement can be a great thing as long as it’s not overdone.


  • I don’t agree with rewarding them at school for just attending. Okay, mark it in their report that they had a perfect attendance record but reward them, no.


  • I wholeheartedly agree. We are raising a generation of kids who don’t know how not to be rewarded. They have nothing to aspire to. And it’s not only school – this has now spread into Auskick where every child receives a medal, and junior football where at the end of the year they have all the big awards eg. Best & Fairest, Coach’s Award, Best Backman, then every team member ALSO gets a medal. My son’s trophy and medal chest is a joke. We recently talked him through it all as we showed his Dad’s medals and trophies that were actually received for him doing something well. We need to stop this.


  • I never liked the award system, I would be happy if they skipped it all together.


  • lol maybe we are all just compensating for the fact that we didn’t get our 8th place trophy’s when we were kids


  • I agree with country chick, its the balance we need to focus on for kids.


  • Kids need to learn to loose just as much as they need to be recognised for good works…. we need to get a balance,


  • Oh, I can’t wait for the weather to be nice enough to get out doors once again. Being outside make my kidlet happy!


  • This is certainly not preparing the child for the real life out there in the real world.
    How about preparing them for losing – a job, an Olympic race, a child?
    It’s about time we were more realistic in the goals instead of trying to create Utopia.


  • I think children should have rewards for respect, caring and team work, important of all a reward for trying his or her best in a particular activity or subject that may be his or her weakness.

    my son was at the school for 2 years and never got a reward. hes in grade 5. the teacher had to get my son up to achieve a reward. I have spoken to the teacher about not telling the kids infront of everyone how many rewards they have etc as it came to my son he was the only one that did not have anything and it really embarrassed him. 1 week later after I spoke to the teacher about not saying it infront of the class, he got an reward. I wasn’t happy because I didn’t want him to get a reward for the stake of not having any and that I spoke up. teachers likes to play favourites even though they say they don’t, some parents or kids can see it.


  • In my opinion, kids need (healthy) competition so they will strive to be the best, instead of settling to do the bare minimum. They need to be challenged so they can find their strength and weaknesses.
    People need to set their kids for success, showing them what the real world is like.
    We know are kids are perfect, but they need to understand there are rewards for good behaviour and consequences for bad behaviour, anything in between is life.

    You cant be there for them every step of their life (i know we wish we could)

    • Well said – I agree with your comments. A parent has the most important role of preparing their child for the real world.


  • Alot of kids these days act entitled, lack respect and seem to be a little lost to what was before them, but parents keep giving giving and giving without having them earn it, hence they have become out of touch and materialistic.. Yet as a parent i want too for my son to have the best of things because other kids can be cruel so fitting in is assisted by with ones possessions these days.


  • I think there are too many awards given, but if kids aren’t learning good behaviors at home it’s good that someone, anyone is doing what they can to teach manners. Break the cycle.


  • our school does, we have Pride awards and Learning Awards – pride awards are normally when a student has shown initiative in respecting their peers, or have done something along the pride values and obviously learning awards are for those that have done extra well at something in particular – and to top it off there are extra special awards for outstanding learning I think they are where the students get morning tea with the principal and deputy principal and a certificate – I think rewarding students individually when it is merited is great for a child’s confidence, but if the teachers feel obligated to give one to each student in their class over the course of the year and they have to find a reason to give them one then it doesn’t seem fair. I think if you put in extra hard work you should get recognised for that, not just because it was your month to get an award!


  • Our school tries to find a reason to give each kid one reward certificate once through the year. This seems to me o be a good middle road.


  • My kids get so many rewards it is amazing. My middle boy got a bike from school for his outstanding behaviour. They get reward school dollars for showing up to school and for wearing the right clothes and different rewards in class for things. They can go to the school shop and spend their school dollars. While I think sometimes it’s a bit much they do have to ear everything and understand that and in this area there is a high non attendance and these are the kids their trying to get to come. My partner and I both hated school… my kids love school and are upset if I make them stay home when their sick so it does have good points this new way.


  • I’m from the Netherlands and when I first was confronted with all these rewards I thought it was bizarre ! My son got once a reward for his beautiful smile !! I agree till a certain extend that attention for good behavior is positive and negative behavior should have less attention.


  • I do not agree with a mercy rule in sport as it is a game and in every game there is a winner and a loser or sometimes a tie. The important skill is to teach children how to win and how lose and how to play games with respect and dignity. Children need resilience.


  • Kids these days don’t learn how to lose and the idea of making there no competition in sport is absurd. While I think there are many parents that are over- competitive at the sports, children need to learn friendly competition and that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.


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