Does Competition help or Hurt Young People – Help

Sure there is going to be disappointment in competition, but that does not mean competition hurts children. I remember when I was a kid I ran in a two-mile race for a track team at a military school I was attending. I won. Later, I learned the other runners on my team let me win and that was one of the biggest disappointments of my childhood. That experience made me cynical of compliments. Whenever I won something after that, there was suspicion in my mind that I did not earn the win but was given it. I was a real loser on that day. My life and self image would have been better served if I had come in last.

Competition reveals weaknesses that can be strengthened and can lead to greatness later in life. Giving a child a win he did not deserve can do worse damage. It can cause confusion and bitterness. I tell you this from practical experience. Let a child win or lose in competition. Don’t take the loss as an affront but an opportunity to learn from failure. By protecting a child from disappointment, it robs him of a rich life of real self-discovery and self worth and understanding. Children aren’t dumb. They are going to spot a phony win and they may just develop a resentment toward the person protecting them from the inevitable.

When the child becomes an adult, he is going to face disappointments and failures, the number of which he has never experienced before. The ones who have been raised to believe they are winners- with the elimination of competition- are going to be crushed by the new reality of competition that has been foisted on them.

Let them cry early when they lose a competition. They will strive to be better when the next contest comes around. Failure will instill in them the ability to take failure with grace and not see competition as something so painful as to be avoided. Why rob a child of an experience that is not inherently bad? Failure is good; it teaches us what not to do the next time in order to push toward excellence. Explain to your child that failing does not mean he is an inadequate person but that it is only a small thing compared to who he is.

Competition is the best thing without the cheating and lies told to your children. Do not be mean to your kid and make him feel like a loser after the loss of a competition. That is harmful. Competing should be fun, a time to get out there and run with the best and shun the trappings of winning. Participation is the prize, that your child is taking a chance and wanting to be among others who hunger for the fun in just trying. Praise your child if only for wanting to be sociable.