Appropriate at a kid’s party to have winners and losers?

A regular sent me a great note last week with a dilemma. She does a great job explaining it so here’s what she wrote:

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot because I’m planning a party soon for my soon-to-be-7-year-old.  It will be an outside party and I would like to include age appropriate games like a dizzy bat or hula hoop relay race, and a ring or bean bag toss.  I would like to give the winner a prize, but is that OK?”

“I took this same child to a party a few months ago and all the kids were divided into 2 teams and given 2 rolls of toilet paper to wrap one of their team members into a mummy.  The mom of the birthday girl said ‘Let’s see who can use all their toilet paper first!’,  then turned on music.  The kids wrapped, and one team was first.  And that was it.”

” It sure sounded to me like a set up for a prize, and I think some of the kids did too, but the game was done.  That mom is a big believer in ‘everyone’s a winner.’  I am not.  These kids are in first grade.  I think it’s OK at this point to introduce that idea that not everyone’s a winner, right?”

“I am not planning on great games of skill and strategy, and the stakes are not high; the prize will probably be just a piece of something plastic, so this will not scar the kids and send them to therapy in later life, will it?  I can’t have that on my conscience.  If this age is not appropriate, when can they play games where someone wins?”

The party is this weekend so this mom needs our help! Can she have games with winners, losers and prizes? At what age is this appropriate? Is something wrong in our society that we even have to wonder this?

97 comments Add your comment

motherjanegoose

September 11th, 2009
7:06 am

test….
I posted yesterday ( around 3;15?) on health care Theresa and it never showed up…just wanted to see if I am being banned from the blog before I spend time with a comment. Please advise.

YES, motherjanegoose

September 11th, 2009
7:28 am

You are banned!

oh dear god..

September 11th, 2009
7:31 am

we should be so lucky.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 11th, 2009
7:46 am

no — I’m sure it’s in the cue somewhere — clearly not banned — plus you’d get a letter to whatever email address you provide if you are banned —- so no!!

DL

September 11th, 2009
7:51 am

Not a regular post-er…..but i do think it is ok to award a prize — candy or plastic toy — to the winner. They are in first grade and “keep score” anyway…….

Andrea

September 11th, 2009
7:53 am

I am not an advocate of winners and losers at the party. I think it takes away from the spirit of the party, but that’s just my opinion.

I think it is really a matter of personal preference. It seems like mom is competition driven so those attributes have probably been introduced to the child, so for them the prizes and acknowledgement of the “winners” would be normal.

deidre_NC

September 11th, 2009
7:57 am

why are yall so mean…if you dont like what mjg says just skip her post..thats the joys of the internet…its why i read news on here…i can skip what i dont want to read about…she actually has good advice and is very knowledgeble (sp) in lots of areas…just dont read her if you dont like her…thats the tprblem with our world…people are mean and have no tolerance…

on topic..when i was that age we had prizes for the games…i see no reason not to….and we never had a goody bag for each kid either…we all got cake and ice cream and some won prizes…thats it…thats the way it should be…imo…

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 11th, 2009
7:59 am

I have a funny friend who you wouldn’t look at her and think she’s super competitive but she is. She threw a baby shower for me and you would have thought it was the Olympics when it came time to do the baby games. She’s like scolding people not to cheat as they smelled the baby food jars and the word games with baby words got downright vicious. Her spirit of competitiveness definitely got picked up by the guests. It was odd yet fun — to get that serious about guessing the baby’s weight and date of birth.

MomsRule

September 11th, 2009
8:01 am

I see nothing wrong with rewarding a “winner”. I disagree with parents who feel that “everyone is a winner” or “everyone should make the team”. Competition is a great thing. Competitiveness is real and exists throughout a person’s life. There is nothing wrong with it. IMO you are doing children a great disservice if you do not teach them this reality.

Competition is motivating. You want it? Work for it.

Yes, I think something is wrong in our society that this is even questioned.

Oh, c'mon diedre_NC...

September 11th, 2009
8:19 am

This is fun Friday, and we are just having some fun at motherjane’s expense! She knows we love her!

new mom

September 11th, 2009
8:28 am

Yep, I agree, it’s OK to reward a prize to the winners. Trust me, if kids are old enough to understand that they are trying to win, they are already keeping track of it themselves and don’t need that prize to remember who won and who lost. Ignoring the fact that one team won diminishes their effort and joy in winning, and leaves kids wondering ‘why did I work hard in the first place?’

What is so wrong with competition? The people I know who are anti-competition seem to be those who don’t want to work hard and are jealous of the rewards of those who do. We have family members on both sides who have that ‘it’s not fair, your husband is ‘lucky’ to have a good job’. Lucky? He works his a$* off to get where he is and stay where he is, people don’t see him staying up late hours, studying, researching, preparing for conferences where he doesn’t get paid but it helps his reputation in his field. One family member keeps saying she wants to ‘do what he does’, and he’s offered to help her, mentor her, etc. but she’s never even made the effort to take him up on his offer. She just wants the good job and good paycheck. I tell him, if she’s not willing to make the effort to meet with you, she won’t succeed in your field because she’s not the type to go above and beyond and set herself apart from the rest.

Wow, this one touched a nerve of mine, huh? Can I chalk some if it up to horomones please? ;) Anyway, back to kids’ parties, I think the bigger issue should be teaching kids that while in the midst of competiton, the importance of being a good sport, having respect for each other, and how to be both a good winner and good loser. At a party, keep it light and fun and remember it’s a party.

SS

September 11th, 2009
8:30 am

Maybe she could reward the winners with homemade medals or ribbons that would acknowledge the winner without being a tangible item like a toy that might cause jealousy. You want to keep it light as it is a party, but I see nothing wrong with rewarding the winners.

I agree that competition and winning is motivating; but also small doses of failure and rejection. We try so hard these days to protect our kids from any type of discomfort or sadness and IMHO we are setting them up for worse things in the future by doing so. Losing, being gracious and learning to laugh at yourself sometimes can get you through a lot of life’s knocks and bruises. You will not be good at everything you try (hopefully you will have fun anyway), You will not always have success and win (support those that do and find things that you can win at too). You are not the star and center of the universe of every situation (but every now and then you are–doesn’t that feel great)? The sooner a child can pick up on these life lessons, the better I think.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 11th, 2009
8:38 am

We did an Olympics theme party when Walsh turned 5 and I had plastic medals on ribbons that the “winners” from each event got – — we tried hard to make sure that most won at some point — I think we gave some out at the end if they didn’t win but Michael doesn’t think so.

new mom

September 11th, 2009
8:40 am

My comment isn’t here…..no time to rewrite. Talk to you guys later! :)

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 11th, 2009
8:49 am

I’ll dig it out –

Michael has a big issue with the concept of everyone’s a winner — We had the most spectacular little soccer player on Walsh’s team and the coach wanted everyone to have a chance to play so he at some points in the game he would pull the best kid and also used to tell him not to cross the center line to let other little guys score — I loved the coach but Michael was outraged — let this kids shine — let him be the best kid out here — don’t hold him back because the other kids stinkeroo — I did feel bad that the little guy was having to be restrained — he was so exciting to watch

deidre_NC

September 11th, 2009
8:49 am

another things is–dont have too many games that win a prize…that way there will be more that dont win a prize. i think we always had a consolation prize–or a 2nd runner up…have maybe 2 or 3 prize winning games…and have games that they play just for fun…i really see no reason not to even have prize games at a party….kids do get enough of win or lose in school….so every occasion doesnt have to be that…i do agree that everyone cant win…kids do need to learn this…and early elementary is a good place for it…i always hated that tee-ball was a ‘no winner’ game…the kids did keep score and eveyone knew who won…thats why kids play…they want to win….

RJ

September 11th, 2009
9:01 am

Everyone doesn’t have to be a winner. That’s a bogus self-esteem experiment concocted by psycho babblers like Dr. Spock and T. Berry Brazelton. The concept of competition is a life lesson. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose in life. Losing doesn’t mean that you’re a loser. I don’t let my kid win every game that we play. Why are parents coddling the daylights out of their kids by making everyone a winner? I think this idea had its roots with Baby Boomer parents who bought the modern day psycho babblers’ crap. My Gen X contemporaries are now parents of Gen Y and Millennium kids and they are guilty of this chicanery.

deidre_NC

September 11th, 2009
9:08 am

im a baby boomer and i, nor any of my friends live by the everyone must win or they will have no self esteem rule…im not sure where that started. i see it more in the younger kids parents…at least here where i live…and watching my kids and their friends with their kids…i have been very puzzled at the partys of their kids..where everyone gets a goody bag…everyone wins everything…its appalling..and ive tried to tell my daughter that they are setting the kids up for failure and confusion when they get into the real world and omg they actually dont win everything and they dont always get a prize for nothing…so who knows where it all started..it really needs to end…

BabeCake

September 11th, 2009
9:13 am

I also believe that we should winners but I’m not sure a 7 year old birthday party is the place to do it. Usually each kid invited to a party brings a gift and for hosts to return rewards to winners kind of diminishes the thoughts toward the other guests.

Try to compromise and award the winner with a duty. Seven year olds love to be helpers. For example you could say, “Congratulations! You get to help me hand out candy to everyone here” or “Congratulations! You get to help me hand pass out the cake and ice cream!”

Just remember there are families who teach that winning is everything so you may end up drying many teary faces if you make the games or awards extreme. I’m sure that’s not what you want guests remembering about your child’s birthday party.

While you shouldn’t compromise your beliefs you need to make sure you aren’t ingoring the beliefs of your guests.

Have fun at the party.

New Stepmom

September 11th, 2009
9:15 am

I say go for prizes. We had prizes at our birthday parties growing up and we turned out ok.

I am TERRIBLE at sports and athletics. I was always the last picked for teams in school and it hurt the first couple of times, but it made me find other avenues to success and self esteem. I see kids now who think they are fabulous athletes when they are terrible because they are always chosen, always play, and always get a prize. What a dis-service. Instead of finding other areas where they excell they are being told they are great in an area where they do not.

I agree with Michael about the great young athlete. Let him play!

YUKI

September 11th, 2009
9:20 am

I think kids need to learn that not everyone can win everytime. This kind of babying is insane. Life is full of winning/losing and kids need to learn that early. I do like the idea of homemade ribbon or something simple as a prize. If you can’t teach your kids to just deal with defeat and move on, then they are going to have way more problems than just not winning a litle prize at a birthday party down the road!

deidre_NC

September 11th, 2009
9:20 am

so one way to have no ones feelings hurt…just have games to play that have no winners…get a slip and slide…or rent a ball thing where kids play in the balls like at mcdonalds…activities like that…there really doesnt have to be games that people win….just fun things to play…then everyone wins cause everyone has a blast…i am really against the everyone gets a goodybag…the point is its the birthdays kids day…they get the presents…all the other kids will have their day on their own birthday…all the kids get ice cream and cake and hotdogs or whatever…the BIRTHDAY KID gets the presents…

deidre_NC

September 11th, 2009
9:22 am

i also have to say…ive always thought it should be the mom who gets the birthday presents for each kids birthday..after all she is the one who went thru the pain and agony of having the child lol…no one ever saw it my way tho..at least none of the kids did lolol

Get It Right

September 11th, 2009
9:23 am

Saw a survey focusing on self esteem as it relates to Outcome Based Education a few years back. Seems that one segment of our population that has the highest level of self esteem were inmates. Because they were limited in their exposure to right/wrong, winner/loser experiences the survey authors theorized that they were limited in their ability to understand why they were in jail.

Have some winners at the party. Let them all lose at something. Real life is like that.

BabeCake

September 11th, 2009
9:24 am

I agree with winners and losers. My whole family is competitive and involved in many sports. I just don’t think that a birthday party is the right place to promote it.

Joyful Mom

September 11th, 2009
9:29 am

Depends on whose feelings will be hurt. What are the ages of the guests?

Most kids age 6-7 would be fine, but some kids in the age group haven’t matured enough to handle it. The party is all about the celebration and everyone having a good time, so if you think that the some guests would be prone to a tantrum or crying fit, forgo the prize at the end of the game, when emotions may be already running high.

Just hand out the “prize” at the end of the party – including little goodie bags for the rest of the guests.

motherjanegoose

September 11th, 2009
9:29 am

WHOO HOOO…the BOSS says I can stay….sore losers get to eat the broken cookies at the party….hahha!

WHO ARE WE KIDDING….there are winners and losers all throughout life. Ii am committed to making sure students understand that not everyone gets picked to participate in my presentations, even in Kindergarten….they know the rules. I cannot pass puppets out to 75 children in 30 minutes.

We talk about this at my staff development presentations and teachers cringe at parents who coddle their children and then they are in tears in the classroom as everyone CANNOT be the line leader. Try being a teacher and letting everyone win at everything, every day.

Get a grip parents. I know that I am not a winner on MOMANIA ( who is?) but I am a winner in my personal and professional life. When we raise children to think they can always be a winner, they expect to have everything…ARE YOU LISTENING? How many folks in our society are mad because thy do not have what some of the rest of us have: cars, jobs, houses, jewelry, well behaved kids, vacations etc. HOW DID WE COME TO GET THIS? WE WORKED FOR IT!

Everyone on this blog is a loser ( in some areas) and a winner ( in others). I will share some of mine and perhaps others will do so too:

LOSER: beauty pageant LOL, fanciest car, neatest house, smartest kids, most money, athletic, hair is naturally gray and has been for years unless I color it….ouch…, I live with those who cannot seem to remember to replace the toilet paper or paper towels when the roll is empty.
WINNER: , published, built my own business and have those who do actually pay me for my ideas, no credit card debt, car is paid for, lots of friends, well behaved children ( for the most part) , love my job, live in a relatively sate neighborhood with a yard I can enjoy.

BEING A WINNER TAKES WORK…we need to share with our children how each of us are winners in some ways and how we accept the fact that we are also losers in other ways and are not spoil sorts.

Jan

September 11th, 2009
9:31 am

I hear ya deidre_NC!!!
I always sent my Mom, and Mom-in-law flowers on my and husbands birthdays. If not for them, there would be no “US”!

motherjanegoose

September 11th, 2009
9:31 am

OOOPS…is that spoiled sports on my last line…someone help me out here.

Andrea

September 11th, 2009
9:32 am

There is nothing wrong with competition and winning. But, does it need to be a part of a 7 year old birthday party? I think the kids can have a wonderful time without a bunch of moms hovering to see if her kid will get the “good” prize.

motherjanegoose

September 11th, 2009
9:38 am

@ Joyful Mom…if I throw a tantrum, may I please get a vacation house at the beach..I want one but do not have one. I also want a housekeeper and chef…can you hear me whining and crying?

WOW…do we actually look at who may throw a tantrum? Maybe this is why we are in the healthcare mess. Some folks are throwing a tantrum as they do not want to pay for healthcare but DO want it. ( I am NOT talking about those who lost their jobs or are being denied benefits …no fault of their own). I am talking about WAA WAA I WANT WHAT YOU HAVE AND IT IS NOT FAIR!

Do you think teachers run their day on who or who may not throw a tantrum? Kindergarten teachers ( of 5 years olds) spend WAY too much time undoing this notion as parents think it is easier to avoid hurt feelings than to confront wrong behavior.

Going to lunch with DB and I have to get ready…have fun y’all!

Alicia Brandt

September 11th, 2009
9:39 am

Kids see right through the “everyone is a winner” stuff for the baloney that it is. Without a top prize, kids have nothing to strive for. If everyone wins, then the prize becomes meaningless- you get one no matter what, with little or no achievement. Besides, they naturally compete with each other, i.e., “I’m taller than you!” (everyone can’t win there, nature decides). Anyway, YES, have a prize (or a few), one for each game. All kids care about is having fun, and the goody bag at the end. They will spend maybe five seconds being bummed out at not winning. The parents, though, may dwell, and that is their problem!

motherjanegoose

September 11th, 2009
9:40 am

@ Andrea….very good point about the hovering moms….so should we accommodate the immature mothers who are so self absorbed that they cannot even mother children who do not always win….who REALLY has the issue here?

I will check in after lunch.

Deanna

September 11th, 2009
9:45 am

You know, you can win a game without receiving an award at the end. It’s possible to just enjoy competing, and competing means that there’s a winner and a loser. That’s life. Do you give a prize to the winner when you play board games? Do you get a trophy when you win a rec league softball game?

Rod

September 11th, 2009
9:46 am

At 7 years old, most of these kids have played games or sports with winners and losers. If we were talking about 3-4 year olds that’d be different. All of these kids are probably going to get goodie bags anyway – so everyone will “win something.” Just don’t make the prizes extreme so those kids will lord it over the others.

Everyone wants to protect poor little Johnny – but he needs to learn there are winners and “others” (we don’t use the word losers) and to give it his best. We don’t need a generation of vanilla, non-trying kids just trying to get by.

Don’t you encourage your 7 year old to get A’s in school? Or do you just tell him any grade is fine?

deidre_NC

September 11th, 2009
9:46 am

i think the moms shoudl stay home at a party with this age group…i always hated when the moms would stay…and sometimes bring the sibs too..geeze….i mean everyone usually has a husband or a friend who can help….all the moms and their other kids do not need to stay!!!!

teeincsg

September 11th, 2009
9:48 am

Competition is a great thing. Birthday party games are more friendly competition thant outright do or die competition.
Why wait until they are really competing for something to show them that not everyone wins?
Teach them early so they won’t be poor losers.
That’s just me. :)

Richard

September 11th, 2009
9:50 am

Deanna – actually, if you win the most Rec league softball games you do get a trophy! And if I’m playing a board game with my child and he wins, I do give him a little “trophy” to keep in his room (an old trophy of mine).

YUKI

September 11th, 2009
9:53 am

Richard….hee hee

SAS

September 11th, 2009
9:53 am

The winners should get a special prize and give everyone else an insignificant prize — this is what we did 40 years ago and it worked. The world is a competitive place and children need to learn that its ok to win and loose — the earlier they learn how to handle this the better and happier they will be.

DB

September 11th, 2009
10:00 am

Ooohhoo, Theresa — you just hit on one of my major pet peeves! Let ‘em compete!! They are seven years old, so the prizes shouldn’t be elaborate, but absolutely let the children compete.

This “every child is a winner” is complete and utter bullshite. No one buys it — not the parents, and certainly not the kids. Why else do we live in an open economy, where we vigorously preach the virtues of “a competitive marketplace” and even have laws against monopolies, to keep companies competitive? Competition is a great thing. Human beings are created to strive and to compete. The drive is more pronounced in some than in others, but it’s always there. All of us want to be considered good at something. At a very basic level, we are hunters that compete to survive. Hunting in it’s rawest form is literally “eat or die.” You don’t think you’re competitive? Ha. Wait until there’s a food shortage. You’ll be competitive — in fact, you’ll be downright vicious in your quest to feed your family.

My son played soccer on a church soccer league when he was 4. They didn’t keep score — it exasperated me, but at the time, it was the best we could do. Sixteen years later, he can STILL tell you the score of the Green Team against the Orange Team — his best friend was on the Orange Team. The adults might not be keeping score, but I assure you that the kids are. My son is highly competitive, and adores any kind of competition: team sports, any kind of athletics, academics, etc. My daughter turned up her nose at “competitive sports” and in a snit of “whatever he wants, I don’t”, and declared that she is not competitive — as if it were a bad thing. It took her a while to realize that yes, she WAS very competitive, or else she would not work so hard for a spot at All-State! :-)

This idea that losing will hurt a kid’s self-esteem, so they should never be allowed to lose is THE dumbest new-age piece of garbage that has ever come down the pike. You cannot give a child “self-esteem”. By its very nature, it must come from within. My job as a parent was to help my children find their strengths and give them appropriate challenges to overcome so that they became increasingly confident in their ability to handle whatever life threw at them. Sometimes they failed at those challenges. Sometimes their self-esteem took a bruising. But there was always something else around the corner to strive for, to build success on.

Birthday parties, where “everybody wins!” don’t help anyone’s self-esteem, because everyone knows that the game is rigged. There is no self-esteem won when you know that there’s a fix in for you to win. And deidre_NC, I am SO with you on the “no goody-bags”! Ha, you don’t think there’s competition out there? Watch these moms eyeing the goody bag and thinking, “Oh, great, now I have to come up with something that is nicer, or people are going to think I’m cheap!” At birthday parties at our house, the birthday child gets the presents. Guests get to pig out on cake and ice cream, play games and generally have a great time, content in the knowledge that their turn will come :-) An overly-elaborate goodybag is just the mom being competitive. The kids grab the candy (if their mom doesn’t take it away from them) and throws away all that junk within a day or so.

Off the soapbox!

HaHa

September 11th, 2009
10:01 am

You finally begged her so much, she’s finally going to lunch with you huh?

deidre_NC

September 11th, 2009
10:09 am

mjg yall have a great lunch…tell us about it after…ill be back tonight after work..

DB

September 11th, 2009
10:09 am

@HaHa — why so mean? I’m delighted to be having lunch with MJG this afternoon and look forward to an enjoyable afternoon.

New Stepmom

September 11th, 2009
10:09 am

deidre_NC-great point, the parents should leave 7yos at the party. I am new to the world of B-day parties and am amazed at the lengths that folks go to so that no ones feelings get hurt. Most of the issues are the parents and if they would let go a little bit the world would be a better place.

When I was in the 2nd grade we all got a mid afternoon snack (this was ‘82/’83). Our teacher lined us up alphabetically and because my maiden name started with a “W,” I was always last. I always ended up with Sour Cream and Onion chips, when I really wanted BBQ (now of course little darlings would not have chips for a snack). I even asked the teacher if just once we could do reverse alphabetical order and was told no. Guess what, I dealt with it. My parents did not call and complain and I did not end up in therapy. I learned that sometimes life is not fair. To this day, I do not eat sour cream and onion potato chips, but that is really the only lasting effect 27 years later. If more kids learned those lessons in the 2nd grade the college students I see regularly would not feel so entitled to being treated “fairly” all of the time.

deidre_NC

September 11th, 2009
10:10 am

mean people suck….and just because you say youre kidding…doesnt mean youre not being mean…

deidre_NC

September 11th, 2009
10:13 am

lol..great story new stepmom…im glad to hear there were no lasting psychosis (sp) from your experience lol….do you still love bbq chips?

DB

September 11th, 2009
10:13 am

Ooohhoo, Theresa — you just hit on one of my major pet peeves! Let ‘em compete!! They are seven years old, so the prizes shouldn’t be elaborate, but absolutely let the children compete.

This “every child is a winner” is complete and utter bullshite. No one buys it — not the parents, and certainly not the kids. Why else do we live in an open economy, where we vigorously preach the virtues of “a competitive marketplace” and even have laws against monopolies, to keep companies competitive? Competition is a great thing. Human beings are created to strive and to compete. The drive is more pronounced in some than in others, but it’s always there. All of us want to be considered good at something. At a very basic level, we are hunters that compete to survive. Hunting in it’s rawest form is literally “eat or die.” You don’t think you’re competitive? Ha. Wait until there’s a food shortage. You’ll be competitive — in fact, you’ll be downright vicious in your quest to feed your family.

My son played soccer on a church soccer league when he was 4. They didn’t keep score — it exasperated me, but at the time, it was the best we could do. Sixteen years later, he can STILL tell you the score of the Green Team against the Orange Team — his best friend was on the Orange Team. The adults might not be keeping score, but I assure you that the kids are. My son is highly competitive, and adores any kind of competition: team sports, any kind of athletics, academics, etc. My daughter turned up her nose at “competitive sports” and in a snit of “whatever he wants, I don’t”, and declared that she is not competitive — as if it were a bad thing. It took her a while to realize that yes, she WAS very competitive, or else she would not work so hard for a spot at All-State! :-)

This idea that losing will hurt a kid’s self-esteem, so they should never be allowed to lose is THE dumbest new-age piece of garbage that has ever come down the pike. You cannot give a child “self-esteem”. By its very nature, it must come from within. My job as a parent was to help my children find their strengths and give them appropriate challenges to overcome so that they became increasingly confident in their ability to handle whatever life threw at them. Sometimes they failed at those challenges. Sometimes their self-esteem took a bruising. But there was always something else around the corner to strive for, to build success on.

Birthday parties, where “everybody wins!” don’t help anyone’s self-esteem, because everyone knows that the game is rigged. There is no self-esteem won when you know that there’s a fix in for you to win. And deidre_NC, I am SO with you on the “no goody-bags”! Ha, you don’t think there’s competition out there? Watch these moms eyeing the goody bag and thinking, “Oh, great, now I have to come up with something that is nicer, or people are going to think I’m cheap!” At birthday parties at our house, the birthday child gets the presents. Guests get to pig out on cake and ice cream, play games and generally have a great time, content in the knowledge that their turn will come :-) An overly-elaborate goodybag is just the mom being competitive. The kids grab the candy (if their mom doesn’t take it away from them) and throws away all that junk within a day or so.

The worst thing you can do is inhibit a kid’s desire to strive.

Off the soapbox!

downsouth

September 11th, 2009
10:14 am

goodie bags irk me, i mean, wtf? let the kids play games and “win”. i do like the “winners get a duty” suggestoin, that’s a good one to use.

maybe you should have dodgeball as one of the games ;)

New Stepmom

September 11th, 2009
10:17 am

deidre_NC-I am with you on the parents hovering. That is a new trend I do not get being that I am very new to the world of kids b-day parties.

When I was in the 2nd grade (’82/’83) we got a snack in the mid afternoon that was provided by the school (not sure if the parents paid or what). It consisted of chips and orange juice (weird combo and I am sure the little darlings would not get chips these days). Our teacher lined us up alphabetically to choose our flavor of chips and being that my maiden name started with “W,” I was always the last to choose. I always ended up with sour cream and onion chips not my treasured BBQ. I asked one time if we could do reverse alphabetical order and was told no. Guess what, I did not cry, my parents did not complain and I did not end up in therapy. I hate sour cream and onion potato chips, but that is really the only lasting effect 27 years later. That was a really good lesson in “life is not fair” and if more people taught their kids that lesson now, I would not see kids who are the “good kids” who always want to make sure everything is “fair” and no ones feelings get hurt when I volunteer with HS and college kids.

New Stepmom

September 11th, 2009
10:19 am

sorry for the double post. user error ;o)!

YUKI

September 11th, 2009
10:20 am

That is a great example, New stepmom. I was a “T” and almost always last too. I hated it, but that was life. I agree, now some parents would probably call the teacher and complain about something so stupid. There is nothing worse than a whiney kid crying about something unimportant. I know certain things are important to kids, but if the parents teach them to complain about every little thing not going their way, then that is what happens. Ugh. My kid will never act like that if I have anything to say about it (not to mention his dad!)

New Stepmom

September 11th, 2009
10:20 am

deidre_NC, I do LOVE BBQ chips. Especially the kettle cooked ones. MMMM

Kat

September 11th, 2009
10:25 am

Do a pinata filled with candy and small toys – everyone “wins.” The one who breaks it is the winner for breaking it – and gets that feather in their cap, whereas all the others get first crack (pun intended) at the goodies because the blindfold is still on the winner.

John Rosemond

September 11th, 2009
10:27 am

Kids must learn that life is not a bowl of cherries, life is hard and not fair well before 1st grade. Preferably around age 3.

OK, diedre_NC...

September 11th, 2009
10:34 am

both YOU and mothejanegoose are banned!

Becky

September 11th, 2009
10:35 am

I see nothing wrong with giving a gift or prize to the smaller kids..Yes, when they are 7 or so, they do need to learn that not everyone is a winner..My two that are 7, also know that sometimes when I buy something for one of them, the other doesn’t always get something..

MJG & DB, enjoy y’alls lunch date..

Big mean people produce little mean people..

Whoever

September 11th, 2009
10:39 am

bans the most posters WINS!!!

Jen

September 11th, 2009
10:59 am

Theresa,

Sorry to be the Spelling Police but it’s “queue”, not “cue”.

A cue is a form of assistance.

A queue is a line, or an order of things…and sometimes it’s a ponytail.

Anyway…there can be winners and losers in party games as long as there is good sportsmanship.

Get It Right

September 11th, 2009
11:00 am

I’m with you, New Stepmom. I’m a W, also. I operate on the assumption that FAIR is a 4-letter word. When one of the grandkids complains about FAIR, I tell them to get used to it. The 6 year old has figured it out and doesn’t complain

SouthFultonMom

September 11th, 2009
11:07 am

Why are kids competing at a birthday party anyway?! I’ve given many birthday parties for my kids, but there was never any kind of competitive games. I’ve done pool parties, Chuck E. Cheese, Dixieland, Discovery Zone, Barbie parties, sleep overs, but none consisted of anything competitive. Yes, kids need to learn that they won’t win every time. But it’s the adults that are making a big deal out of this. I bet if you give them a kickball and tell them to go have a good time they would. Everything thing doesn’t have to be organized to the T. Give them the hula hoops and let them have fun but just being kids!

K8's Mom

September 11th, 2009
11:14 am

How about an index card that an adult marks each time a child tries one of the games…he/she tries all of the games, they get a prize. My daugher went to a party like this…she received a small stuffed bear for trying everything and succeeding at some of them. FYI, she snuggled with the bear last night…much better than a bag full of little plastic toys that get stuck in the vacuum cleaner! :)

My thought on birthday party games…it isn’t like soccer or basketball. I think with team sports they should learn the lesson of being a good winner or loser. Birthday parties shouldn’t be competitive!

Dad

September 11th, 2009
11:26 am

South Fulton mom is right. Why does a bday party have to be a competition. Just have fun. There are pleny of opportunities for kids to learn the lesson that not everyone wins every time, which I agree with. Having coached many soccer team, baseball teams, etc for both boys and girls, I can tell you, it’s the parents with the hang ups, not the kids. Stop pressuring your kids to “win” at everything to make yourself feel better. Even if your kid is the the star of the football, baseball, and basketball team, you will still be the same geek you were before you had kids. Let it go.

New Stepmom

September 11th, 2009
11:28 am

@ YUKI and Get it Right, too funny that you guys experienced the same end of the alphabet/end of the line treatment that I did ;o)! I swore for years I would marry someone with an “A” last name. I only moved up to “R.”

YUKI

September 11th, 2009
11:29 am

ME TOO! I’m an “R” now too! funny!

GrandmaOf8

September 11th, 2009
11:59 am

The fact that this question even needs to be asked speaks volumes. Mommies today have so many “guilt trips” laid on them, and this is surely one of the Biggies. Competition helps build character. Making an artificial “everyone is a winner” life for our children sets them up for confusion and depression when they get older. When “everyone is a winner” it creates a false assumption that you don’t have to work harder to get better at something.

A child needs to see competition as a healthy thing — not as an aggressive nature as some of you portray. Too many 20-somethings have the attitude today that they “deserve” a raise without hard work. They “deserve” a house even though they haven’t saved up for a down payment.

Get over the “everyon’s a winner” mentality! Kids’ self-esteem is actually strengthened when they work hard at something and are justifiably rewarded for their efforts. Seeing others “win” without any effort is actually what harms their self-esteem. They lose the desire to try harder.

Hunter of MILF's

September 11th, 2009
12:05 pm

Hello Ladies,

Is it not the job of a parent to each children how the world REALLY works? Giving a prize for winning is a good life lesson for them. After all if you do well in your chosen career are you not rewarded with a promotion or a pay increase? I’m just saying.

Hunter of MILF's

September 11th, 2009
12:08 pm

And that would be “teach” not “each” in the tenth word of my first sentence above….my bad.

Hunter of MILF's

September 11th, 2009
12:09 pm

@deidre_NC

Yes mean people suck, but nice people swallow…;)

Uconn

September 11th, 2009
12:26 pm

YUKI and New Stepmom… How funny, I also thought that same thing… I was a “P” and hated it… I was bound and determined to marry an “A”… In Feb I will marry a “C” … Ahhhh…. Moving up in the world! ;-)

Andrea

September 11th, 2009
1:10 pm

The problem is absolutely with the parents. That’s why birthday parties have now evolved into events that can cost upwards of a thousand dollars! Whatever happened to playing pin the tail on the donkey? Oh – the kids started putting the tails on the parents!

I really think competitive sports and academic teams are wonderful. I just don’t think the competition needs to be at a birthday party. For the posters who say that by not having the competition, the kids are being sheltered – would it then be fair to say that those who insist on having competitions are so far gone that they can’t go to one single event that does not involve competition?

jack5656

September 11th, 2009
1:13 pm

I think whether to recognize the winners and loser depends on the circumstances.

A birthday party is to celebrate a birthday, and since the mom was going to give little plastic crappy toys that would be lost, broken, or ignored within a week anyhow, what is the point in recognizing the winners with prizes anyhow? Can’t the kids still be recognized without being given a prize? Seems to me that the prize (again, in the context of a the innocence of a birthday party) just piles on the losers more than rewarding winners.

Now when it comes to organized sports, thats a different story. I don’t think kids should be told to not do their best during a game. that’s just silly. I doubt though that there was no part of the game he could improve on. That’s what youth league is for, to learn the fundamentals. I coached a team where we had a superstar like that and he dominated the games so much that we decided to work on teaching him the importance (to him and to his teammates) of passing and getting the whole team involved. It was awesome. Instead of him scoring 10 points a game (they were 6 at the time), he would score 5 and he would get 5 assists to other kids on the team. Every situation is a learning opportunity..and frankly when the season started he was a great scorer, when the season ended he was a great player.

We did yank him at times though so that everyone got equal playing time. Like most leagues, ours required a minimum playing time for all kids, but we never took the approach that the lesser the skill the closer the kid was to his minimum playing time. The parents all spent the same amount of money to get their kids in the league and as long as the player had a good attitude, the worst players got the same playing time as the best. I don’t think winning, at that age, should take precedent over treating all kids fairly.

Now when they join competitive leagues, where they try out for spots and cuts are made (i.e. high school), you put the best players in and everyone earns their playing time. Winning is the goal at that level and thats the way it should be.

HaHa

September 11th, 2009
1:16 pm

Hunter – good one LOL

Andrea

September 11th, 2009
1:17 pm

I can almost picture some mother with her veins popping out yelling at her child because he/she missed the first swing at the pinata! You know the competition thing at the party may be worth it if for no other reason than it would spare you the expense of hiring clowns for entertainment!

New Stepmom

September 11th, 2009
1:25 pm

Uconn-I guess you win the prize for moving up furthest in the alphabet ;o)! I will try to make a ribbon and send it to you so that YUKI does not get her feelings hurt for only moving up two letters.

catlady

September 11th, 2009
1:38 pm

At a party, I like for ALL the guests to have fun. With a group of 7 year olds, that probably does not include ONE winner.

What amuses me is that if this were a part of school, many of the pro-winner parents here would be causing a stink about their little darling getting his feeling hurt, or having their self-esteem crushed.

What is the reward for winning at a party for 7 year olds? A big cheer by all the guests!

BRC

September 11th, 2009
1:58 pm

What if the 7-year old birthday kid requested party games and prizes?

Jessica

September 11th, 2009
2:02 pm

I think it depends on the age. Four-year olds at a birthday party would NOT be good sports if someone else gets a prize and they don’t. It isn’t reasonable to expect them to “get it” when it comes to winning and losing. If it’s a group of nine-year olds, they should be able to handle it.
I do think it would be a good idea to keep the prize really small — maybe a cheap little 1st place ribbon or a cool sticker — enough to recognize the winner, but not enough to generate any real envy.

new mom

September 11th, 2009
2:24 pm

Speaking of donkeys…. I think that’s the reason my post never showed up. I used some symbols to describe it when someone works their…um…donkey off. Maybe those symbols are blocked. Arrgghh I’ve been banned too! Oh well, time for a nap ;)

DB

September 11th, 2009
2:38 pm

Well, I wrote a diatribe at 10:00 this morning, but it’s never shown up. Boo Hiss. I’m not going to rehash what everyone else has said, only point out that humans are wired to be competitive. You don’t think competition is important? You’ve never had to hunt for your food — when it comes down to eating or starving, I bet you’d be competitive. We do our children a disservice by not teaching them how to deal with competition, life, disappointments and triumphs. Self-esteem comes from within — you can’t give it to anyone.

BTW, had an absolutely riotous lunch with MJG — we laughed for two solid hours about our kids, our work, etc. etc. I hope you all have a chance to meet her someday, she is delightful, funny — and has an infectious laugh!

HB

September 11th, 2009
3:09 pm

Wow, people really get worked up about this! I honestly don’t ever remember competitions with prizes at birthday parties when I was a kid other than a prize egg at one little boy’s egg hunt April bday party. I remember pool parties, skating parties, Showbiz Pizza (pre-Chuck E Cheese). Maybe we played games, but they didn’t make much of an impact on me if we did.

If a parent wants games and prizes, I think that’s fine. But I can see where some parents would lean away from it, though. Competition is good, but not everything has to be one. No reason why a birthday party has to be a competitive event. And as several have said, why does winning have to be rewarded with a tangible prize? A round of applause lets kids know competition and winning isn’t always for the sake of getting something. Overall, I think it’s sad that parents would have to think hard about this. Have games and prizes if you want, or other activities if you don’t — to each his own. The goal should simply to be a good host and work to show a bunch of kids a good time for a couple of hours.

BRC

September 11th, 2009
4:44 pm

I had a friend who didn’t like her daughter to play the Hullaballoo game by Cranium. It’s a simple game where you place plastic shapes of different colors on the floor and follow some pre-recorded directions on which ones to stand on. She didn’t like it because it named a “winner” and the winner gets to do a silly dance or sing a song or something. She didn’t like it because it placed one of the players higher than the others. I think that is taking it to the extreme.

I remember games with prizes at birthday parties and I always thought those were the most fun. And I rarely won. The one time I can remember winning was I guessed closest to the correct number of jelly beans in a small jar. I won the jar of jelly beans.

As far as the Chuck E. Cheese parties, besides being too expensive for my wallet, don’t the kids compare who has the most tickets and who get to pick the better things at the prize counter?

My preschooler came home today and told me they played “hot potato” during recess. I asked him to tell me how they played and he told me, even describing the last person still in the game as the winner. I don’t think a simple game at a party is going to hurt anyone.

Uconn

September 11th, 2009
5:10 pm

New Step mom… I don’t want to upset anyone with a prize… its ok… ;-)

motherjanegoose

September 11th, 2009
5:11 pm

Wow…what a fun lunch I had today with DB. The food was delicious and the company was superb.
DB is the third person on the blog I have met for lunch and ( as expected) she is very interesting.
We plan to get back in touch when I a finished living out of a suitcase this fall.

Have a nice weekend all!

motherjanegoose

September 11th, 2009
5:18 pm

@ Andrea….regarding the cost of birthday parties….I remember a mother who offered me $600 to do her daughter’s party and this was over 5 years ago. I said, “No, I do not do parties…”
She was really mad.

Once, I got a call on a Wednesday in December…here is the conversation:
“Hi there….my daughter has seen you at her school and I asked one of the teachers for your number.We are having a birthday party for her this Saturday and it just occurred to me that while I invited 12 four year olds….WHAT WILL WE DO? I am hoping you are able to come to her party and what do you charge?’ I tell her that NO I am not able to come THIS SATURDAY IN DECEMBER and that I do not do parties. She is all upset and asks, ” WHAT SHOULD I DO?”
Heck if I know…this is her child, not mine and I really DO NOT CARE. Some parents are crazy!

BRC

September 11th, 2009
5:34 pm

@U-Conn, Yuki, New Step Mom, et al – do I get anything? I married someone whose last name has the same initial as my maiden name, so I didn’t move anywhere in the alphabet. At least a consolation prize?

new mom

September 11th, 2009
5:38 pm

MJG–we need to have a get together where we all meet! We could wear two nametags, one with our online names, then our real names…

new mom

September 11th, 2009
5:39 pm

No prize for you BRC, it might make someone else feel bad about themselves… ;)

BRC

September 11th, 2009
5:52 pm

The husband was the prize (ducking the tomatoes now).

DB

September 11th, 2009
6:59 pm

I went from a “W” to a “B” when I married — I was SOOO excited, I had absolutely NO qualms about taking my husband’s name! I had spent my entire life being last in line, at the back of the classroom, etc., etc. Love the view from the front!

deidre_NC

September 11th, 2009
11:44 pm

‘get it right’ i always told my kids that fair was a place where you ride rides and eat cotton candy…oh they hate to hear that now…but if they start to say something about fairness..they immediately repeat ‘i know i know–fair is a place where you ride rides and eat cotton candy’ lol..

to hunter of milfs—im sure you are one of the nice one :)

i love the idea of meeting…it could be a blast..

JATL

September 12th, 2009
10:11 am

Absolutely have winners, losers and prizes! I’m so SICK of the status quo about self esteem and not having any losers I can’t stand it. When I was in school we had Fall Festival King and Queen contests. Talk about competitive!!!! First, one boy and one girl got elected from each class 1st -6th grades, then there was an overall election for who out of all of those pairs would be fall festival king and queen! Kind of like homecoming, but in elementary school. Everyone lived through it, and I highly doubt that it’s come up in any therapy sessions.

I heard a fantastic interview on NPR the other day with two child psychologists who have written a book advising parents NOT to hover, NOT to over-praise and NOT to teach their kids that they’re always winners! They did years of testing that showed the kids who didn’t win everything and who were told they were doing a good job trying, but that they needed to try a little harder were the ones who consistently demanded harder tasks, tackled them and stuck with them until they were done or solved. The kids who were always told how great they were and what a good job they always did (even when it wasn’t true) demanded the easiest tasks and were easily distracted. Our society really needs to get over its obsession with making sure everyone feels fabulous all the time.

MA

September 12th, 2009
12:32 pm

JATL – Your Fall Festival King and Queen contests reminded me of our “Color Day” (Homecoming). I grew up in a very small town and we had “Color Day” to recognize all the clubs in our school. We did have the court with a queen and king and attendants. My class was only 72 kids, so, there were 12 boys and 12 girls picked for the court. It was pretty much a popularity contest. The court was voted on by the student body. I was in a tie with one girl, so, the teachers voted to break the tie and the other girl won(she was also voted most outstanding girl in our Senior class). I was crushed, but, I went to the coronation(in jeans and a ratty sweatshirt) and didn’t go to the dance. My dad told me to suck it up, and, I did. That was many, many moons ago.

I still believe in winners and losers. Not everyone can win. That’s life!

Tiffany

September 12th, 2009
7:39 pm

OK, this is a party for First graders, right? Why do you have to pit them against each other? Can’t little kids just be allowed to have fun? There is a simple solution: play games for fun…believe me, they WILL have fun…then everyone gets a small prize or goody bag to take home when it’s time to go. Everyone has a great time, and they ALL have something special to show mom and dad when they get home. The POINT of the party is to have FUN, right?

Meg Hasten

September 15th, 2009
5:09 pm

I think it’s completely acceptable to have a prize. I agree that kids need to learn early on that there are winners and losers in life and you don’t always get what you want. The sooner they learn this, the more gracious winners and losers they will be. It could be a great opportunity to talk to your son about this too. Good luck!

Irene

September 16th, 2009
1:51 pm

Why oh why would you have a contest? Shouldn’t a party just be fun?

Dan

October 15th, 2009
3:50 pm

Is it appropriate? It should be required