Is Your Child Entitled to a Trophy?

trophy entitlement kids parenting

Steven Lilley | Flickr


A young mom queried me intently after our talk on Entitlement in kids. “What do you do about the culture around us that guarantees that every child is a “winner” at participating and receives a trophy, even for last place?”

We commiserated about how rampant this attitude is, that dispenses trophies and stickers and stars and ribbons ad nauseum to make sure no one feels bad, and puts caps and gowns on kindergarteners for conquering a rigorous academic year.

So practically, how can you respond to this widespread attitude of trophy entitlement? Here’s what I told Jill.

My Kids’ Messes Drive Me CRAZY!

messy kids drive me crazy multitasking mom

For years I have struggled with the mess that our lively, spontaneous, creative, frequently disorganized children made at high speed. I used to call it “Trash and Dash.”

Since their father has somewhat more “relaxed” standards of housekeeping than I do, household messes were a constant battle in which I felt hurt, alone, and resentful.

The Most Important Key to a Child’s Success

identity key to success pin

SEO | Flickr

Pretty much every parent wants their children to succeed in life.

When talking about teaching kids to be successful, parents often want to jump right to tactical issues like chores, homework, respect, and obedience. These are important issues, and we’ve written about them elsewhere. But they are not the most important.

The most important — more important than chores or good grades or even obedience — is that children know who they are and where their value comes from. In other words, what really matter are the messages our kids hear that over time begin to form their identity.

What Happens When We Approach Our Kids with an Empty Tank

empty tank parenting

Hector Alejandro |


Sometimes, especially when we’re stressed and our tank is on empty, it’s easy to approach kids with our needs instead of a full heart.

We demand the good behavior that “fills our tank” instead of filling them with our love. (I certainly remember doing that!) It can look like paper-thin tolerance or hair-trigger frustration as our expectations aren’t met… like this…

The Power of Pain

power of pain

Muhammad Taslim Razin | Flickr


When we experience difficult circumstances, or when we begin the difficult journey of examining our core beliefs, it’s not usually a pleasant process. In fact, it’s often quite painful.

Digging into deeply entrenched beliefs and habits can bring up feelings of hurt, sadness, anger, loneliness, abandonment — feelings that we often just want to stop feeling.

Sometimes, it somehow seems easier to ignore the problems created by leaving these issues unaddressed, or to hope and pray that God will somehow just take them away. But even when people try to ignore the pain of recurring problems, it remains a primary factor in their relationships and behavior.

Where Do Parenting Reflexes Come From?

parenting reflexes

On the journey of parenting, many of us find that we have some “typical parenting reflexes” that we default to. Some of this comes from instinct — as when we instinctively move to comfort a crying child. But what about yelling? What about sending kids to their rooms? Where do the rest of our parenting reflexes come from? Let’s take a look at the story of Caryn.

Why You Should Teach Your Kids to Break the Rules

rules lrules list teach kids to break rulesong list kid title

desadaphorn |


I grew up being really good at following rules.

As a child (and even as a young adult), I really struggled with having grace for people who either didn’t or couldn’t follow the rules. Kids who did poorly or misbehaved in school, my younger sister who was less “shiny” than I was, non-believers, or even people who just didn’t have it as “together” as I thought they should — I was outwardly humble, but inside I looked down on them with condescension and self-righteousness. Why couldn’t they just follow these simple rules?

My Worst Parenting Nightmare…

frustrated mom worst nightmare

It was every parent’s nightmare – over two hours at the allergist’s office with three young children. The kids and I all took turns alternately getting poked for blood draws, scratched all over our backs and arms for allergy testing, and puffing to check breath levels for asthma. The results? A bountiful diagnosis of asthma and allergies for everyone, with many allergies rated 4+ on the 0-4 scale.

The markers and paper I had brought along lost their appeal about 20 minutes into the two hour process, as my stress level rose to about a 6 on the 0-4 scale!

Letter to a Discouraged Parent

To the discouraged Mom in the third row,

sponge squeeze lies outAs I share a story from my own parenting journey, our eyes meet and I sense a sadness inside of you. You are here alone. Are you a single parent? Are you married but struggling to get on the same page with your spouse? I’m not sure, but whatever the reason for your solitude, you seem to be bearing a lot of weight on those shoulders.

Perhaps you feel like a sponge, soaking up all the tension in your family. And there’s plenty of tension! There’s a burdensome sense of responsibility to keep everyone happy, and it’s not working.

When Life Gets Sucked Out of Our Family

Sometimes technology feels out of control. I am chief offender in our home. Two hours can pass and, if I’m completely honest, I don’t really remember much of what I did, saw, or believed was so important.

technology suck life dad

I recently came to realize that I was spending hours with various screens (computer, e-reader, phone, etc), as were my kids, simply because I was… BORED! Not that there weren’t other things to do, but somehow my life and the life of my kids was being sucked out of us with nothing to show for it.