I mentioned in another post titled “What Can I Do To Help” that I wish the world could be less competitive and more cooperative. Or at least I would like my kids to be, but it is difficult to encourage that when the world around them is so focused on competition. I think this is evident in plenty of ways, but when I think about how many reality TV shows there are that are competitions, it really hits home. I’m not saying I think all competition is bad. In fact, I think it’s a good thing for a number of reasons as long as we don’t lose sight of the fact that being the winner is not the be all and end all. It’s a wonderful goal to set for yourself and work towards and something to be proud of if you can achieve, but one should also be proud of the dedication, persistence, and improvement one achieves in the process.
I think back to the Olympics and how it is perceived by so many that “only” winning a silver metal is somehow a failure. What kind of message is that sending? … that unless you are the absolute best at whatever it is you do, that somehow you are a failure, or minimally not good enough? I think being in the Olympics is quite an accomplishment in itself and always applaud the athletes who look at it that way.
The kids’ elementary school always seems to have some sort of contest going on whenever there is a reason to collect money or anything else for charitable organizations. I understand that the kids need motivation to bring in their spare change or Box Tops or whatever else. And I think it’s OK to have a collective goal and be able to say, “Look what we did when we worked together!” What I don’t like is when there are prizes for individual best sellers or contests when it comes to things like food drives. I think that very much takes away from the spirit of why it is being done in the first place. It’s not about winning a contest but about being compassionate and helping others. Sometimes that message gets lost in the translation when all the kids focus on is which class or person is winning the competition.
Then there are all the kids’ sports activities where some parents forget that at that age it is about developing skills and love for the sport, good sportsmanlike behavior, learning to work as a team, etc. and not all about winning the game. They get way too riled up on the sidelines. It really bothers me hearing some of the things both parents and coaches say or yell to the kids and seeing them be unsportsmanlike. Some coaches are very good about keeping it at the right level, while others take it way too far. Some kids seem to thrive in a highly competitive environment, but many lose interest too soon. I know my one son dropped out of baseball partly because of this and not because he didn’t enjoy playing anymore.
I’ve also seen kids get very frustrated when they can’t do something really well right away. I think this can happen when someone is used to doing well at other things. However, I think the competitive environment doesn’t help. There is pressure to be good at or the best at everything that doesn’t need to be there. As long as my kids’ effort is the best it can be or relatively close, I’m happy with that.
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