The conversation about competitiveness in children is ongoing in our society. Some experts point out that we have no natural competitive spirit, that it is inculcated by parents and family members. Some argue that competitive children are successful children, that they are gaining life skills that will take them places in the future.
Some parents worry that children who are too competitive may have problems and some worry that if children are not competitive enough they will never achieve their goals. All of this ignores the real issue of importance when it comes to competition though. It is not a question of whether competition is good for your child, but whether how your child feels about competition is good for them.
Simple competition is not the issue and neither is winning or losing. What is at stake here is your child's ability to put competition into the proper perspective and then cope with it.
There are many different ways for your child to engage in competition in their life. They could be competing in sports or other games that have easily identifiable winners or losers. But your child could also find themselves in competition in the classroom or even at home. This can be a good thing. Healthy competition allows your child to pit themselves against a worthy opponent and pushes them into performing at their best.
As a parent, you should value this kind of opportunity because it does teach your child to strive and to eventually succeed. You should be concerned, however, if your child focuses too much on the wrong aspects of winning and losing. You do not want your child to either be a poor winner or loser. You also don't want them to be afraid that you value them only for their wins.
Make sure that you teach your child about the value of admiring competitors whoever wins. Another good lesson for them to learn is that whether they win or lose, there will always be someone better and someone worse out there. Finally, make an effort to praise your child for their efforts and performances rather than for winning alone.
Studies show that competition can teach children to self-respect. It can teach them to cope with emotions like jealousy and it can teach them to try things they might not be good at. These are all important lessons for your child to learn. You can help them to learn and put things into perspective by being supportive of competition and insisting on a proper attitude towards success and failure.
Help your child try different kinds of competition from competition against themselves to achieve personal bests to competition in skills and games that are not a part of their strengths. With your support, these kinds of experiences will help them see the value of engaging in competitive endeavors. They will not only win or lose on their own merits, but also come to appreciate those merits in and of themselves.