Competition with kids

Competition is part of life. In business and in sport, healthy competition is what propels us to move forward. I’ve been reading Andre Agassi’s autobiography OPEN and without his competitive nature he never would have been so successful. But the main competition Andre focused on was the competition he had with himself. He knew he could be better than what he was and that drove him to achieve a great many things including no.1 tennis ranking and a Gold in the Olympics.

Competition starts early, most kids are competitive in some way or another and that often starts at home with the arrival of a new sibling etc. I’ve noticed the competitive nature between my kids on the rise as they both get older and are able to do many of the same things (getting their PJ’s on themselves, bike riding, building the tallest lego tower, etc). However as part of the journey of raising happy and confident children that can cope with the (often harsh) realities of life, I want them to focus more on being their own “personal best”, not just ‘the best’. Without our encouragement, many children tend to compare themselves with their peers instead of focusing on their own lane and their own progress. I’ve noticed this with my son lately, he has a natural aptitude for maths, and is one of the better in his grade, however he is less confident with his reading. As a result he’s said things to me like “I’m bad at reading, I hate reading” – which is completely untrue, but it worries me that because he’s not ‘the best’ in the class that he thinks he’s not any good at all, and as I result I can see his self-esteem suffering.

I am working hard on explaining to him that there is always someone worse or better than them at things at any given moment. And that doesn’t matter one bit.

I have just bought him a tool called the Big Life Journal, and have discovered their amazing website and the way they like to teach a healthy growth mindset. They talk about this on their latest blog and explain that there’s no reason to compare ourselves with others because:

FIRST, our accomplishments and results do not make us more or less valuable or important. We’re all equally worthy of love, attention, kindness just because we were born. It doesn’t matter who is better or worse—we’re all equally worthy human beings. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

SECOND, you can explain that in order to grow we need to focus on building our own skills and getting better rather than competing with others. 

You can say:

“Our personal growth and learning are always about us and no one else. You might not be the best and that’s okay. The most important thing is that you’re better than you were last time!”
To help your child focus on their own progress, you can ask:
“Can you think of something that you can do now that you couldn’t do last year?”
“How do you feel you did compared to last time? Did you make progress?”

“Which part was easier this time compared to last time?”

Remember that these questions are important regardless of if your child WON or LOST. 

The more we encourage children to focus on their own progress and wins, the less they’ll compare themselves to their peers going forward.

If you’d like to read the original article (or other brilliant ones) please head here:

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