It was all about the game rather than winning when Laurimar Power under-10s took on St. MOver the past few weeks I’ve been speaking at the Generation Next seminars lamenting the fact that in today’s society, it seems every kid needs to get a prize!

Indeed I’ve heard of teachers being berated by over-zealous parents because their child didn’t receive a fifth place ribbon.

Why do we feel the need to do this?

Have you been to a youngster’s birthday party recently?

Since when did the rules of Pass the Parcel include a prize in every layer of wrapping?

The obvious reason is so that we ensure our children feel special – and happy.

But as I contend in my talks, in our quest to have happy kids we could be setting them up to be unhappy teens and adults.

I believe that if a child only ever experiences success, then we – as adults – have failed.

As the world continues to change, one thing is for sure and certain, kids will face challenges and set-backs. The skills they’ll need to cope with these can’t be explicitly taught. They need to be developed by experiencing a struggle here and there.

After my talk in Melbourne, many of the delegates wanted to talk to me about the AFL’s decision to scrap points, ladders and finals for junior football believing that kids don’t want to win or lose, they just ‘play for enjoyment.’

Hmm… I actually have a couple of points on this.

1. If the decision has been made to protect kids’ self esteem, then it’s a ludicrous decision for the reasons I’ve pointed out above.

2. However, I’ve seen plenty of ‘coaches’ destroy a kid’s love of a sport through their win at all costs mentality. Sacrificing enjoyment and skill development in order to get the ball to the best player to ensure they secure the trophy.

So I’ll give the AFL the benefit of the doubt (just!), and believe their ‘no points’ decision is in order to enhance coaching practices and skill development across the country!

Author: Dan Haesler is a teacher, consultant and speaker at the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People seminars. His website is: http://danhaesler.com/ and he tweets at @danhaesler