‘I refuse to let my wife give our son a participation trophy’

A man refused to let his wife give their son a participation trophy after the 12-year-old came in fifth place in a spelling bee. 

The father posted his dilemma to Reddit’s “Am I the A*******” page to get a sense of whether he was in the wrong.

Recently, the Reddit user’s 12-year-old son, who is in sixth grade, came in fifth place in a spelling bee that had 28 contestants. While fifth place is solid, the middle schooler wasn’t happy about it. Especially when the top three finishers got trophies.

“[He] was extremely upset that the 1st, 2nd, [and] 3rd place children all received trophies and he did not.” 

The poster’s wife, wanting to cheer up her son, thought it would be a good idea to hire a third-party company to design a spelling bee trophy just for the son. But his dad didn’t approve.

“I told her I would explain to our son that if he wanted a trophy, he would have to earn it,” the father wrote on Reddit. The poster said that he was more than happy to spend summer vacation helping their son practice for the next spelling bee so that he could earn a trophy next year. 

‘I think it sets a bad precedent’

“I don’t feel comfortable with a participation trophy as I think it sets a bad precedent where you will be awarded for being upset you didn’t win,” the dad continued. He added that his wife is “furious” with him and feels that by denying their son a participation trophy, the dad is stunting the son’s growth by making him feel inferior to his peers. 

So how did Reddit feel about the dad’s decision? 

Most of the responses supported the poster, claiming that participation trophies aren’t the answer. 

“Participation trophies do more harm than good,” read the top comment. 

“Participation trophies make winning feel cheap. Why put in effort if you get a trophy anyway?” another user wrote.

But some users felt that participation trophies have their place. One person felt that participation trophies are good if they’re used to ensure that kids who’ve spent months preparing for an event don’t become discouraged and quit.

While most of the respondents were anti-participation trophies, research has shown that rewarding kids for their effort can have positive effects. In fact, a study led by a Stanford psychology professor found that kids who were praised for their effort rather than the result were more likely to take on more challenging tasks, while kids who were praised for their result wanted to take on easier tasks in order to maintain their status.

That being said, a trophy isn’t the only way to celebrate success. For example, the poster added that he and his wife took their son out to his favorite restaurant to celebrate coming in fifth. 

There’s nothing like a tasty meal, but this star speller probably has his eyes on the p-r-i-z-e for next year!

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