There Are No Bonus Points For Showing Up, Are There?

You don’t get bonus points just for showing up. That is, unless you are in my son’s dual enrollment college psych class. He gets one point added to his grade for every day he decides to drag it in to class. Granted, the class is held at 7am, but bonus points for showing up?

One day last week, he slept through it. I’m not prone to waking him up for stuff. He’s sixteen. He should be able to get up and be to work or school on time without his mom having to wake him up. Life skills. I’m teaching him life skills. Occasionally, I’ll peek in and see that his feet have hit the floor, but mostly that’s on him. So one day last week, he slept through class. Later that day, I asked him if he was counted as absent, or did the professor even take roll. He told me that the professor did take roll, but only because those that show up for class get a bonus point… for showing up. The class meets twice a week so that’s about 32 bonus points a semester just for sitting their rear end in a seat. Why is this okay?

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We gripe and complain about millennials, but they are a monster of our own creating. I know because I have raised four of them, and against all odds, I have tried to break through the mindset that most kids in their generation have. Mindsets that are propagated by professors who do things like reward kids for showing up. Mindsets that are instilled when parents punish teachers for their kid’s bad behavior instead of the kid. Mindsets that take hold when we award kids with trophies and bonus points just for showing up to play or learn or whatever.

When did we start giving rewards for doing what is expected?

I can remember when I was a kid, I got it in my mind that I deserved an allowance for cleaning up my room, helping with the laundry, and other chores around the house my mom told me to do. When I approached my mother with my well-worded argument, she quickly set me straight without missing a beat. She said she would not pay me to do what was expected of me. I think she also asked me if I was out of my mind. Clearly, I was.

Large corporate organizations, for the first time ever, are having its education departments instruct its millennials on things like eye contact, appropriate work attire, and proper professional email communication. Never before have these classes been needed. Never before have young adults entered adulthood so ill-prepared for their roles in society.

My husband teaches college-aged kids and faces some of the same issues. Kids want deadline extensions on assignments. They want exceptions made so that their poor planning can be excused without consequence. 

And yet, these kids were not born this way… we raised them to be this way. By giving participant trophies and false praise, we have raised a generation that will likely struggle in the workaday world of real life. They are not just the best thing ever. They really are not. They are not even close. I mean they have value as people, but only One was ever the best thing ever, and in no way is it them. Kids raised on false praise are set up for failure.

Our kids aren’t great at everything. It’s important for them to fail sometimes. It is in our failures that we find the strength to get up and keep going. We find out what we are made of when we come up short, and we learn how to get back up and try again. As parents, we have to let go of our fear over our kids. Yes, it hurts us so much when our kids suffer failure and disappointment. But it is on the backs of things like that that we have attained a measure of success in our own lives. Why do we want to snatch from them these valuable lessons?

Bonus points are great… when we earn them. Unearned bonus points just promote an entitlement mentality that won’t serve our kids well. You shouldn’t get them just for showing up. 

So what do you think?

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