Apparently the debate rages on. Some parents are still convinced they should not encourage their kids to confront the challenges of competition. It seems that they are concerned, amongst other things, that to not be successful when competing can cause some deleterious outcome that could scar their kids for life–damage their frail egos and crush their self-esteem. What’s more likely to happen is that their kids will grow up not understanding that non-success can be a great teacher. It is how we learn. It shows us that we will not always win. Not winning doesn’t lessen us as human beings. This is a great life lesson and one that needs to be lived and experienced so that we have a healthy perspective on life itself. I’m all for protecting our children and we need to help keep them out of harms way. But the other side says that competition is good for our kids. Some would say necessary. It teaches them how to accept victory with grace and class (that’s if the parents are doing what they need to do and that is teaching those principles). It also teaches them how to participate as a team member if the competition is based on team work as opposed to an individual activity. If it’s an individual activity then the competition is not against an opponent as much as it is within ourselves–striving to do our personal best. They also need to learn how to accept losing with grace and class. This is what real life is like. They need to understand that there will be times when their best effort will not be good enough. Disappointment is as much a part of life as success. But if they are used to competing they will more likely gather their skills and their strengths, decide what they have to do to be more successful and get back to it. Competing is as much about attitude as it is behaviour.
There are so many types of activities that are open to competition. We compete for jobs, for promotions at work, for recognition, with ourselves, sports and marks at school just to name a few. Almost everything we do has an element of competition to it and to tell our kids that competition is not important is to do them a great disservice. It is not reality. Better we teach them how to compete but it needs to be balanced with all the other things in our lives that are equally important. Should everyone get a ribbon just for showing up?? I think that everyone should be recognized in some way for showing up but rewarded–NO.
Everyone likes to win. Kids love to win. It can build great internal strength in victors and when we talk about self-esteem nothing strengthens self esteem like victory and self confidence. I don’t agree that winning is everything and I don’t agree that people should be judged or assessed by what they have but the truth is that society rewards those who have tasted victory. Competing helps to define what you have learned along your way. Dedicate yourself to providing your best effort at most things you do; Be the best parent you can be; Be the best citizen you can be; Be the best employee or the best employer. Be and do the best you can and you will experience your fare share of victories.
Yes winning is important. To win one needs to be encouraged to compete. Competing provides the opportunity to practice hard earned life lessons that will serve our children well in the real world. Those who embrace competition tend to become hard working, dedicated, passionate, not afraid to try new things and are usually highly self-motivated. I, for one, want my kids to demonstrate these qualities in their day to day lives.
If kids are telling their parents that they are not having any fun or that they are disappointed with their athletic experiences perhaps they just don’t like physical activities. Maybe they are skilled and competitive in other unrelated areas. Let them determine where they want to compete. Don’t force them to do it if they aren’t suited for the challenges they will face. If they aren’t then help them find something that is more to their liking-something they have a gift for-something they truly enjoy participating in. They may be better suited to compete for the lead role in a play or to play a musical instrument in the band-who knows? We should never force our kids to compete in an activity for which they have no skill or desire to play. Is it our egos as parents that is getting in the way of our kids enjoying their activities? Everyone is good at something.
Not every kid should get a ribbon that says ‘thanks for coming by.’ If they want to participate but not compete let that be their decision. However, lets not overlook the kids who work hard at being as good as he/she can be. They need to be acknowledged for his/her efforts.
Anyways, that’s how I see it–Jim
Agree or disagree/ Let me know–feedback is always welcome. Connect with me if you like at firstname.lastname@example.org OR visit my web site for more information at jimcloughley.com
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