Parenting for a Trophy Now or Later?

One of the most important questions adults can ask themselves as they work with students is: Am I working for a reward now or later?

In his book, Poke the Box, Seth Godin writes about a typical contest that takes place in towns across America every October. Stores in town hold a contest for kids to paint a Halloween picture on their window. The winner gets a prize and bragging rights for a year. Godin points out that parents have three options when it comes to their involvement in the contest:

1.     Oversee the whole thing, helping your kid do it or doing it for them.

2.     Stand back and do nothing, letting your kid do whatever he wishes.

3.     Coach them to do their best and win or lose—learn from it all.

A parent’s choice says a lot about their philosophy of parenting. Far too many furnish lots of direction, almost dictation, as to how the painting should turn out. They choose option one. Why? They want their kid to win. And, with parents involved at such an intense level, those kid’s chances of winning go up. Or, a parent may choose option two and feel the kid should play freely with no input at all. Sadly, the kid doesn’t learn nearly as much as they would if the parent chose option three.

With option three, a caring adult interacts without governing the outcome. They help kids learn from the experience so, as they mature, they continue to learn when the parent is no longer next to them.  This is the adult who parents for a trophy, not now, but later. Their children become adults who not only know what to think but how to think.  But—this requires adults who live for rewards down the road when they actually count. They teach the kids to fish rather than give them a fish.

Are you parenting to help them win NOW or LATER when it matters?


Parenting for a Trophy Now or Later?