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Why competition can be both good and bad for your child

It's unrealistic and unhealthy to expect your child to win all of the time. There are pros in winning, and pros in losing.

While there’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition every now and then, encouraging your child to be overly competitive can lead to major life problems.

When done right, good competition can help your children learn skills they’ll use throughout their lives. When done wrong, it can cause unnecessary stress and leave children feeling disappointed if they don’t measure up.

It’s difficult, but necessary, for parents to strike a balance between encouraging their child to be competitive and creating a child who puts winning above everything else.

The pros of competitive sports 

Competitive sports or other competitive activities teach children how to compete while placing them in social situations. Social development is crucial for kids as they grow and learn, and competition facilitates this well. Problems, however, occur when parents begin pushing children to win or be more competitive. Letting a child develop a skill on his or her own is better as it gives them the opportunity to make important decisions about their interests and activities.

Don’t demand that your child be competitive

Sadly, some parents cross the line between encouraging their children to be competitive to demanding it. Children who are a product of this behaviour often wind up feeling as if nothing they do is good enough. This can lead to low self-esteem and a host of other mental issues that can be very difficult to overcome. Losing a nail-biter of a game or falling short of winning the top prize isn’t easy for anyone, but you have the power to help your kids think positively about competition.

Lead by example

All children should learn how to win and lose gracefully and how to be okay with both. Expecting to win all the time is unreasonable and unhealthy. If you become upset when your child loses, they will learn this type of behaviour from you and will carry it with them throughout life. On the other hand, a child who understands healthy competition will learn how to win and lose while still maintaining a great attitude about both.

Teaching your child it’s okay to lose will also show her self-discipline. If she has your approval either way she’ll develop the healthy attitude needed to succeed in life.

Try to be there to support your kids through their challenges and regularly reinforce the message that it’s okay to lose as long as they are putting forth and effort and learning from the experience    

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