Birmingham psychologist discusses giving kids participation trophies

Birmingham psychologist discusses giving kids participation trophies
Birmingham psychologist Josh Klapow says the context of the trophy should be considered. Source: WBRC video
Birmingham psychologist Josh Klapow says the context of the trophy should be considered. Source: WBRC video

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Have you heard about the NFL player who returned his young son's athletic participation trophies?

James Harrison plays with the Pittsburgh Steelers and he has now started a lively discussion on parenting.

Harrison, who walked on to his college team and earned two Super Bowl rings, said he wants his sons to earn a real trophy in an Instagram post.

One big question that comes out of this is: By giving out these types of trophies, does it coddle kids or help boost their self esteem?

Birmingham clinical psychologist Josh Klapow says it's important to understand Harrison's position as not only a father, but an NFL player who himself had to work hard to where he got.

To the larger issue, Klapow says there is no absolute right or wrong answer, but what should be taken into consideration when it comes to these type trophies is the age of the child and also the context and communication around its presentation.

"The sports experience, playing with the other kids, how they interact with their coaches, how they interact with their parents when they win, or lose, or get hurt or get in arguments, all of those things together, plus either the trophy or not the trophy, that makes the sports experience and that is what's going to determine how the child learns from it. The trophy itself is only one part of it," Klapow said.

He added that parents should realize that just because a child gets a participation trophy in his or her younger years doesn't mean they'll expect such the rest of their sports career.

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