Easy win culture creates kids who 'cannot handle defeat'
A mollycoddling approach to school sports where everyone wins regardless of individual performance has been slammed by a leading psychologist for creating an age of mediocrity.
The Premier's Sporting Challenge rules stipulate that every child from Kindergarten to Year 2 will get a gold certificate, regardless of how much physical activity they do over the 10-week program in a bid to foster "positive attitudes to physical activity".
Schools have also been warned against acknowledging individual effort in case it "alienates or discourages poor performing students".
Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg warned the "everyone's-a-winner" culture adopted by the Department of Education failed students because they were not learning how to deal with defeat and disappointment.
"In life there are no free lunches and I think if you create a culture where you get rewarded for doing absolutely nothing, just turning up … everybody becomes mediocre and that can't be good for society," he said.
Dr Carr-Gregg said trophies, ribbons and certificates of achievement should be awarded to those who earn them, warning that children who were never exposed to disappointment would struggle with resiliency later on.
"What you're creating by doing that is just a risk-averse bunch of kids who may well struggle to tackle the developmental tasks later on," he said.
Balmain Tigers great Ben Elias said participation trophies robbed children of a healthy sense of competition.
"They don't have grand finals anymore because it psychologically hurts the kids," he said. "I am not a believer in that. I believe you learn to win and lose at a young age because that's what happens at an older age.
"That competitive nature is a very important (for) success in anything that you do."
The Department of Education said students from Kindergarten to Year 2 had received automatic gold awards since the challenge began in 2008. Older students were awarded diamond, gold, silver or bronze certificates depending on their level of daily exercise.
Activities children can count towards their daily tally include flying a kite, washing a car and fishing.
Peta McGavin said she wanted to teach her daughter Charlotte, 6, that she would be rewarded if she achieved something. "A gold certificate achievement should be given to those who have completed the task," she said. "I believe there is always a winner, I believe in healthy competition."
Sarah Lewin said that merit certificates were given out so frequently at seven-year-old daughter Rose's school they now failed to be noteworthy. "I don't think it is a big achievement to be active an hour a day," she said.
Originally published as Easy win culture creates kids who cannot handle defeat: psychologist