Competition is something everyone faces in life. But should we be creating a world filled with competition, encouraging children to outdo others, to be the best, make them think that everything is a race?
There are mixed thoughts on whether competitiveness is a good thing to teach children and of course both pros and cons either way. I think the most important thing to consider is how specific competition is influencing the child.
If competing in tournaments encourages them to work hard and do their best, then it is worth offering them. But, if it causes them to stress and beat themselves up about not being good enough, then perhaps it should be avoided.
If it is a competition that allows children to improve, to encourage and to inspire each other, then it is worth being part of. But if it is a competition that only focuses on top place, that degrades others that are "beaten" and that separates players out as winners and failures, then that is something children should not be forced to experience.
An article from verywellfamily.com makes an important point: "competitiveness by itself is generally not a bad thing—it's how people approach competitions that can make them unhealthy. In other words, if the only goal is to win and not learn anything in the process, kids are going to feel discouraged when they lose. But, if parents, coaches, and fans learn how to look at losing constructively, then kids will learn a lot more from the competitions they participate in."
Victorious Vole is from the Emotional Animal Alphabet series and offers a look at a character that may not be the best, but tries very hard. This character in fact is helpful in the team relay and gets to experience first place!
It shows how competition, when offered in the right mindset, can encourage a character to never give up, to learn and grow and that winning isn't always the goal.
Although there may be a place for pleasant competition, not everything should be about who is better, who is first and who compares better to whom. In fact, children should be shown that in life, everyone learns and grows at their own pace. If someone seems to be better at something it may just mean that they have developed that skill sooner. A child should be encouraged to continue to develop their own skills, at their own pace because they too can achieve their goals.
Competition is about setting goals, and working to achieve them. It can teach resilience, encourage a good work ethic and develop a mindset of growth. However, when the only goal is winning, when those that don't win are seen in a bad light, when encouragement turns to high demands, competition is no longer a healthy or beneficial experience.
In a competition situation, help kids focus on the effort, not the end result. Help them recognize that failure is a situation to learn from, not to be ashamed of. Inspire them to encourage others, to believe in themselves and to enjoy the journey.
"It's important for parents to be there to support their kids through the challenges. You also need to regularly reinforce the message that it is okay to lose as long as they are working hard, putting in their best effort, and learning from the experience."
There is no place for competition in creativity. Comparing works of art, stories etc. is not inspiring imagination. Check out the blog post about Inspiring Creativity to read more.