I'm a firm believer in credit where credit is due.
I also believe that reward and praise of children is important in boosting their confidence and inspiring them to always 'give it their best shot'.
Star charts or similar are a great reward system, both at home and at school. They provide the ability to recognise good behaviour, resilience or achievement on a day-to-day basis.
A star chart is a great concept for encouragement. It is about building self esteem and a valuable option for boosting enthusiasm, behaviour and the eagerness to try something new.
These charts also pave the way for goal setting as youngsters strive to achieve more stars in the hope of receiving something special as a reward when a set number of stars are earned.
For example each child could look forward to going to the movies when they have received 10 stars on the home chart, or perhaps a gold certificate could be presented when a child reaches a star milestone at school.
The concept of the star chart fosters the understanding within young ones that there is a positive outcome from positive actions and behaviour. It is most definitely a lesson for life.
I also love the concept of payment for chores - It doesn't have to be much (of course that is a comment from a parent), but monetary reward for doing a job is a way of life. Developing an understanding of such a system, and at the same time a strong work ethic, with our children will better prepare them for the expectations of adulthood.
But I can't help but think the participation award for children is overused. In fact, I believe this type of reward has the potential to undermine the value of truly achieving.
This concept seems to be a matter of "you get a reward, you get a reward, everyone gets a reward."
It has the potential to set children up for disappointment as they advance to adulthood where rewards and recognition are something that must truly be earned.
Seriously, you don't get an award for turning up to work, but every time a child ties up the laces on their sneakers to run in a cross country race or pulls on their goggles to take part in a swimming event there seems to be a participation ribbon on offer.
In my opinion, it delivers a message of encouraging an expectation of something for nothing.
Furthermore these token gestures have the potential of demeaning the value of rewards given to those youngsters who may excel in these areas.
Running or swimming or some other sport may be the forte of some children - they do well and are deserving of reward for their efforts. But when every other child, who takes part also gets a ribbon, it tends to undervalue the much-deserved rewards for excellence.
By all means if the participation of a child in such an event is a result of extraordinary circumstances - they may have a disability or injury but still stepped up to take part, or they may have helped a struggling friend across the line - then absolutely, recognition for their efforts is warranted.
In that instance the acknowledgement needs to be special, rather than the same as what everyone else gets. It could be a certificate of recognition at the next school assembly, or even a few stars on that star chart.
Quite simply it should be a special award for a job well done.
From my recollection of the school days of my three children - the concept of the participation ribbon was confined to sporting activities. It was a frustration for my children because that is where they shone, but everyone received a ribbon.
I don't recall my children ever getting a participation ribbon for doing a maths test or completing an assignment. And rightly so.
When it comes to the academic side of education, it generally seems to be the case that each child receives a mark on their tests or assignments, and their results are reflected in overall grades on report cards. Only those with the best results receive a special award.
Surely this is an approach that should be across the board.
I am a firm believer that all children shine somewhere - it could be academics, sport, music, dance, social conscience, leadership, kindness or sheer determination - to name a few. They should be encouraged for their special qualities and recognised for exceptional achievement. They do not need to be rewarded for simple taking part.
Without a doubt those good reports, ribbons for sporting excellence and rewards for good behaviour are always worth celebrating at home. Validation and praise from family is all important in developing confidence in our children.
Mumma Jak has three children and is familiar with the challenges of parenthood. She is well aware that every child is different, every day can be different and a parent's approach needs to be different according to the situation at hand. She is happy to say she fumbled through, motivated from the perfect starting point - unconditional love. The good news is that all three of her children have become normal functioning adults.