You Deserve Geeky Merit Badges

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Recognition is lavished on kids. Children get trophies at the end of every season whether their team won or lost. Teachers hand out candy and stickers for accomplishments as small as passing a spelling test. Afterschool clubs give participation plaques to all youth members. Honors and awards have become so commonplace that they’ve lost their meaning.

We overemphasize praise, which isn’t good for kids. I’ll tell you who could use more praise, more recognition, more rewards.


Tangible rewards for grown-up accomplishments used to come in the form of bonuses and extra vacation weeks. Now we’re thrilled if our corporate overlords permit us to buy a little health care. It’s time for the kudos we deserve.

Yes, there’s a way. We may work patiently and endlessly at tasks someone else assigns us hoping for eventual recognition. But we can also do exactly what we’re good at and reward ourselves (and our friends). Those rewards can be proudly displayed on a jacket, laptop bag, wherever you choose. I’m talking merit badges. Hip ones.

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Like the “I use twitter to spread science” badge.

Oh there are more.  Badges like “I will crush you with my math prowess,” “I’ve named a child or pet for science,” and “I bet I know more computer languages than you and I’m not afraid to talk about it.”

These particular badges existed only in digital form on Science Scouts but now they’re available, if they’re in stock, at Angelheart704’s Etsy shop.

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You can also get badges for providing family tech support, solving problems by nodding, or emptying your inbox. Check out the colorful badges and snazzy laptop sash at Nerd Merit Badges.

My favorites are the beautifully crafted badges by leemeszaros, available on Surely you (or someone you love) deserve a badge for  pushing the envelope, being full of hot air, sticking out like a sore thumb, rocking the boat, letting the cat out of the bag, or being a smart cookie.

And for truly intrepid badge earners, there are still a few copies left of You Can Do It!: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls.

This book shouldn’t be out of print.  Designed as an inspiring Girl Scout-like manual for women, it features badge categories like “create,” “learn,” and “dare.” Each incorporates advice from professionals, plenty of resources, and some get-going gumption. The tasks within the categories include building family rituals, learning to maintain a car, skydiving—-basically breaking through any boundaries we put between ourselves and our goals.  The author, Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, was a busy marketing executive. She wanted to encourage women to continue pursuing their own dreams despite the demands of careers, relationships, and children. Grandcolas was killed aboard United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001.  This book (one of her goals) was published posthumously. She left a motto on her refrigerator door: “Get busy living or get busy dying.”

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3 thoughts on “You Deserve Geeky Merit Badges

  1. “We overemphasize praise, which isn’t good for kids.”

    This is an oversimplification of the studies in question, at least according to the book “Nurture Shock”. It would be more accurate to say that the best praise we can give kids is to praise effort, rather than praising natural gifts. instead, we tend to tell our kids that they are “smart”, and as a result, many kids tune out when things get difficult, thinking that they’re simply at the limits of their natural abilities. We do better by emphasizing effort and the learning process.

    1. You are exactly right Lawrence. I write about Dr. Dweck’s studies emphasizing mastery and growth mindset in my own book. Dr. Dweck does mention that praise should be de-emphasized in her most recent book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” and that’s what I was taking off on, but your point is well made.

  2. I agree that children today are over praised. We reward them for the least little thing that isn’t really an accomplishment. There are graduation ceremonies held at some schools for every grade. Sports aren’t played competitively anymore. All of this cheapens the experience for the kids when they really accomplish something in my opinion.

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