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Competition and kids
Winners and losers

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#1 EBmel

Posted 16 November 2012 - 08:54 AM

(Posted on Amity's behalf by EBMel )

I’m writing this post through sleepy eyes, on a very dusty laptop, on the building site of The Block All Stars.

            Yes, I may possibly be mad, but we're actually having a ball   doing this huge renovation job, and I’m really glad I pushed aside my   nerves and said yes to the opportunity. The kids are here with us and   are loving the excitement of being part of a TV show. They're also   getting very spoiled by the cast and crew, and are enjoying their   holiday in Sydney with their grandparents while Mummy and Daddy work   hard and look much dirtier than usual. The show goes to air early next year and is going to be a cracker, so make sure you tune in and see how we go!

Without giving anything away, it’s a pretty competitive environment   around here, and this has got me thinking about kids and competition. Is   it good to raise your kids to be competitive, or should we be focussing   on the old adage ‘it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you   play the game’?

            In Australia our obsession with sport and winning is well   documented, yet the way we teach our kids is now much more focussed on   participation, with the pressure to win played down.

My six-year-old started playing soccer this year, and, in an attempt   to take the pressure off the players entirely, their club doesn’t even   keep score for the under-sevens. I understand the logic, but it's pretty   futile when the kids know exactly what the score is and celebrate and   mourn their wins and losses accordingly.

            I applaud attempts to rid sporting leagues of the parents who   abuse the referees, other parents and even kids when things don’t go   their way. That's the ugly side to competition and it has no place in   kid’s sport.

            But is it such a bad thing to raise kids who want to win? And   is getting rid of the ‘best and fairest’ award, instead giving every   child a medal for effort, an act of encouragement or political   correctness gone too far?

            Our son is naturally competitive - not through our   encouragement, but most likely thanks to his genetic link to competitive   parents. He gets very down on himself when he doesn’t excel in things,   and, despite our insistence that it doesn’t matter if you win or lose,   he cares about outcomes very much.

            Like so many parents do with their own children, when playing   games with him as a preschooler we let him win often enough to keep him   tantrum-free. However, I questioned that after reading a study on the   potential outcome of letting your child win all the time. Published in The Atlantic, the   article explained how psychologists now believe children who never   learn to fail can find life extremely hard as adults, often leading to   an inability to cope when things don’t go their way. So by letting them   experience the disappointment of loss when they're young, we're actually   helping our children by preparing them for the ups and downs of life.   Or perhaps just their favourite footy team losing the grand final!

            The fact is that in sport, work and life in general, it   sometimes does matter if you win or lose. Ultimately we live in a   competitive society, and having a fire in your belly to want to win is a   good thing. But I’ll also teach my kids that you learn more from your   losses than you ever do your wins, and that good sportsmanship is the   most important thing.

            I’ll also be reminding them of the old ‘it doesn’t matter if   you win or lose, it’s how you play the game’ right before a certain   auction early next year. Although, I won’t lie, a win would be nice ...

Are you raising your child to have a competitive spirit? Do you   let them win at board games? Do you agree with the 'no scoring' rule in sport? Share your thoughts!

#2 BadCat

Posted 16 November 2012 - 09:05 AM

I think humans are naturally competitive and it should be embraced to an extent.  Of course we should temper our kids competitive streak so they don't ride rough shod over everyone but for goodness sake let them win at stuff they are good at and be proud of it.

As you say, the kids always know the score anyway, why try to pretend there isn't one?  

Everyone knows who won the running race.  We should be able to celebrate and praise the best while still encouraging those who struggle to even finish.  It really isn't that hard.

Oh, and I never let them win at board games.  I helped them to play better so they could learn to beat me. laughing2.gif

#3 Ireckon

Posted 16 November 2012 - 09:19 AM

I do think that things are going a bit far these days, no one is allowed to be a winner, in case other children feel bad because they don't have the same aptitude in whatever challenge they are faced with. In competitions, or games, there is more focus on making everyone feel good, when in fact there ARE times when a winner needs to be acknowledged. Kids NEED to know what it feels like to fail, I agree with this completely.

We do not let our kids win at games. We make them figure out how to beat us - and DS7 can now win monopoly against DH, because he understands the strategy of the game.

We see the differences between our older 2, one is great at math, one is great and literature. That doesn't mean they don't try at the subjects they feel they are weak in. We do tell them that everyone is smart, just at different things, and I think that is important for them to know.

#4 casime

Posted 16 November 2012 - 09:30 AM

I'm opposed to this environment that people seem to want to create where children are supposed to always succeed.   Life just isn't like that, and if you never fail, there is no incentive to ever get better.  

I was hopeless at the various school sports when I was a kid.  Athletics day always saw me coming in last, same with swimming.  Whinging to my mother did no good.  But she did point out to me that I excelled in my chosen sport (dance) and that many of the children that were beating me at running and swimming couldn't dance.   It taught me that not only can we not win at everything, but that we don't actually HAVE to win at everything.  Who cares if I couldn't run fast?  It wasn't important to me, and not something that I needed to spend my time trying to be better at.  But dancing was my thing, and that was where I put my effort and let my competitive streak go wild.  I think that was as an important lesson, if not more so, than the 'you don't always have to win' lesson.

#5 liveworkplay

Posted 16 November 2012 - 09:43 AM

I think there is a happy medium. Let's face it, life is a competition. You cannot shield kids from that. But I think teaching them that it is not the be all and end all in all situations and teaching them that we all have our strengths and weaknesses is paramount.

explained how psychologists now believe children who never learn to fail can find life extremely hard as adults, often leading to an inability to cope when things don’t go their way. So by letting them experience the disappointment of loss when they're young, we're actually helping our children by preparing them for the ups and downs of life.

I totally agree. We need to learn how to fail, how to cope with failure and how to do it gracefully. I would much rather my kids fail now in their preteens, then their first taste of failure be as an adult. My eldest DD is currently older, larger and more mature then her peers. She therefore finds school and associated activities  easy first go and consequently either competes above her age/grade level or gets very good grades with minimal effort. I have a hard time convincing other parents that this is not actually a good thing as she has never failed at anything and I am getting concerned how my sensitive child will cope with her first real big failure. People just think I am not proud of her achievements or being modest but it is not that all.

So yes, I do think competition for kids is a good thing if done in a healthy, compassionate way.

#6 steppy

Posted 16 November 2012 - 09:49 AM

It's a ridiculous false environment. In real life people win and lose all the time. Coping with disappointment and learning your strong and weak points are all part of living. I agree with the underlying premise that people are equal in importance and need to be treated as such, but that doesn't mean you can't or won't enjoy a win or mourn a loss.

#7 seayork2002

Posted 16 November 2012 - 10:22 AM

What you said!

I agree

QUOTE (steppy @ 16/11/2012, 10:49 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It's a ridiculous false environment. In real life people win and lose all the time. Coping with disappointment and learning your strong and weak points are all part of living. I agree with the underlying premise that people are equal in importance and need to be treated as such, but that doesn't mean you can't or won't enjoy a win or mourn a loss.

#8 xela1974

Posted 16 November 2012 - 12:50 PM

I agree with all of the comments above.  Thanks for posting, it saves me the time ;-)

Oh and btw, I (nor his dad) don't let my older DS7 win at games, and like another poster mentioned, he now sometimes has the ability to win against me (or his dad) in some games at some times (last time we played checkers he totally out-played me, but boy was I so proud of him for doing it!!!!!)

#9 julz78

Posted 16 November 2012 - 01:04 PM

I'm all for competitiveness in sports so long kids are taught sportsmanship along the way. I think this not keeping score and no winners and losers business is unrealistic and will breed a generation of mediocre kids. When my kids play they play to win, they give it their best shot, try their hardest, sometimes they win sometimes they lose, that is life.

I would probably go as far as to avoid the "everyones a winner" type sports because I think it is a simply a lie not everyone is a winner and not everyone can win at everything. One kid may be a fantastic swimmer but may be a poor ru

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