Channeling the Competitive Kid
They have the “eye of the tiger,” as the song lyrics say. Your child was born a competitor who strives to be the best at all things at all times, and so help whoever or whatever gets in the way! These traits are strengths when channeled properly, but can pose challenges when your child is pushed, tested and possibly bested by a challenger. Help to direct this determination in positive ways. Whether the contest for your child is in classroom, in the dance studio, the Tae Kwan Do dojo, on the baseball the field, or in a chess match, learn how to channel your competitive kid!
“You let me win!”
So your six year old has to win at Candyland or else throws an epic fit. Should you let them win? If you’re playing “Uno” and get a lucky hand a few games in a row and win, your child may lose interest or heart and not want to play anymore. On the flip side, if you “let” them win every time just for the sake of saving or boosting an ego, where’s the sport in it, and how will your child learn to really play the game? While your instinct as a parent is to protect and nurture, sometimes it really isn’t all about winning – it is about “how you play the game,” and that does involve losing to learn. Maybe your little one needs you to repeat the directions and show him or her how you were able to win. Be patient, and know that in a few years, your son or daughter will probably whoop you at that same game, if you take the time now to show him or her how to play.
Think outside the “field” – what are your child’s strengths?
When we think “competition,” we tend to think of mainstream sports such as football, baseball, soccer and basketball since so much media coverage is devoted to them. Think outside the “field,” because competition is everywhere! Maybe your little one is the next valedictorian, Van Gough or music chart topper! Your child might be an Olympic skier, high diver, champion chess player or first chair violin in the NY Philharmonic! Expose your child to different games, sports and activities early. If your child is of school-age, you will never be without an after school program, private club or town recreation team for him or her to join. Think about what your child’s strengths are. Does he or she show a liking toward being the “best” at anything in particular yet? If not, give him or her opportunity to try a team activity and an individual activity. See if he or she thrives in one situation over the other. Some children prefer the camaraderie of a team while others would rather shine alone.
How to foster “friendly” competition
It happens! There are times that your child will bring home silver or bronze instead of gold. They won’t win every dance competition, and tears of disappointment are sure to flow, especially if you have a hard core competitor at home who puts pressure on him or herself to WIN. As if not being the winner isn’t hard enough for a kid with this kind of drive, there will be times when a friend is victorious over your child or outshines him or her, and this could easily lead to resentment, jealousy, or your child pulling away from an otherwise healthy friendship. What to do? Remind your child that with dedication, his or her team (or he or she alone, if the activity is solo), can do better in the next competition and grab that blue ribbon or first place trophy! Above all, help your child to separate the competition from the competitor.
Photo Credit: Erin G.
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Erin, aka “Mommy” to a 5, 3 and 1 year old, is an adjunct professor, amateur photographer and sci-fi junkie, mostly in that order! She lives in northeast New Jersey with her much adored husband, kiddos and strange looking but loveable hairless cat and revels in baking pureed vegetables into muffins to trick her children into eating (and liking) them. You can find her capturing the beautiful moments of her life’s chaos and calm on Instagram and Twitter.