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It felt so good

God it felt so good! I was at the after school football club and my son received the Player of the Week award!!

He was pleased as punch as he held the plaque with pride. I congratulated him and told him I was really proud of him. He went home happy because of the good saves he made and the trophy he had won.

Not an uncommon feeling in fathers or mothers when your child is recognised for achievement. It is common when a loved one achieves and is rewarded to be proud, be that an academic award, passing an exam or achieving something special.

But as a training sports psychologist I thought about it later, if my son had not won the trophy would I have been any less proud of him? Would I have been any less complimentary of his actions? Each week I stand watching proudly and make sure I tell him so, but I listen to parents whose children didn’t win, some consoling – others saying “well just try harder next week.“

So the point of today’s blog is as a dad do you reward the process of trying or the action of achieving? There are a number of studies that show children who, in series of exams are rewarded not on what they achieve but the effort they put in. These children do better long term and in future exams than those who are praised for passing or getting a set result in the first exam.

Now, some people will point out that there are studies to show that you need to reward success to motivate people. However this is really about adults and in performance environments not school children who are still emotionally developing.  The result of performance related praise is really not transferable to children, and just because the Daily Mail may say so doesn’t make it true……..

So, if we reward effort do we develop children who try hard at everything?  If we focus on rewarding success we may develop children with a fear of failing. 

This can been witnessed in sport teams that play so they don’t lose, and teams that play to win. When playing to win, they can win big but this means trying and taking risks, and accepting sometimes risks don’t work and we lose.

So next time when the situation occurs, why not think about praising the efforts even if the result is unsuccessful.  But when they do win a prize feel the pride and enjoy it !! 

Have a good week.

 

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