Ask any business person and they’ll tell you that competition is healthy. However, in the education world there have been a couple of decades where conflicting messages have been propagated.
Some schools almost stopped sports days because they didn’t want to have winners and losers. That old cliché ‘it’s not who wins or loses that matters, but how you play the game’ popped up regularly.
Contrast that with the educational system’s growing emphasis on exam success and the pressure on kids to do well in GCSEs, at A level and in their University degrees.
So kids will often look to their parents for some indication of what’s OK (even if they would never admit it!) So, are you the one with running spikes in your bag at sports day ready for the mother’s or father’s race? Or would you die rather than be seen running down the track?
Win-win or win-lose?
The win-win situation has become much more valued in business today, so it’s worth educating your kids about what that means. This means teaching them how to negotiate so everyone gets what they want – or at least some of it.
Every parent uses this strategy from time to time “If you eat all your vegetables you can have ice cream,” or “If you come and play with Joey (a visiting younger child), you can have the iPad for an hour before bed.” It’s a good way for kids to take notice of what other people find important in order to create this win-win outcome for themselves.
Teach positive failure
Everyone experiences failure at times, big and small. The difference in those who succeed is how they deal with it. Is it the end of the world? Or is it just a lesson not to do something that way the next time?
Of course, disappointment is bound to come with failure. But if you teach your kids to take stock of what they did or didn’t do that resulted in this outcome, they’ll learn to rectify problems and give things another crack. Lots of celebrities took some GCSEs several times before achieving the pass they wanted. People frequently fail their driving test at first go – it just means they need a bit more practice to hone skills and get experience.
You can’t avoid competition, it’s everywhere – and it can be fun. A healthy approach will give your child an advantage that will last a lifetime.