Exploring competition as a way to motivate and encourage our child as they learn and make progress in their growth.
Competition and often the stress that comes with it is inevitable in life. We should relook at competition and pressure in a different light. After all, competition can be a form of positive stress that fills us up with adrenaline and gets us to stretch a little more.
Economists may share that the role of competition is necessary to maintain productivity and efficiency in the markets. Psychologists will also tell us that it’s within our human nature to compete and seek progress. Think of it this way: competition can be a platform for each other to each other’s saw.
When a task at hand is not challenging enough, it may not spur our children to push themselves further. On the other hand, if our children are constantly put under a prolonged stressful environment, it may hinder their learning experience and promote rigorous learning instead.
Now, the key to that is to strike a balance towards a healthy form of competition. A healthy state of competition can be beneficial for our young children. It can help to keep things challenging enough to help instil resilience in our child. And how does healthy competition help to do so?
Working Towards A Goal
The lack of progress and dreams in our life can lead to unhappiness, and it can be demotivating. With a desire to constantly be better, they can learn to set a goal and work towards that goal.
Competition or inculcating a competitive spirit in our young child will help them to stay focus.
It’s more than just winning or losing at something. the aim is to imprint in them that in the process of reaching their goal, they are growing; they’re getting better along the way.
This was also echoed by Timothy Gunn, a pediatric neuropsychologist, owner of Gunn Psychological Services, Inc., in Southern California, and a judge on Lifetime Network's Child Genius: Battle of the Brightest docu-series. He said that “competition helps kids learn that it’s not always the best or the brightest who are successful but those that work hard and stick with it.”
Competition can also help to shift the perspective in our child that sometimes, it’s not about competing with another person or team. Instead, it’s about competing against their performance — to be okay with losing and feel good about their efforts.
As physical life resumes in stages across the nation, you may notice an improvement in their mood and engagement in your child. But the value of having a goal to work towards is priceless.
Tracking Milestones Along The Way
Competition is also a great way to track milestones along with their learning experiences. It can help them prepare for real-life experiences. As much as parents and educators like ourselves want to protect them and wrap them in a cocoon forever, it will have an adverse effect on their self-esteem and confidence more than we realise.
We should be careful as we’re not using competition to merely raise young children to be results-oriented or focused only on winning. The message we want to impart to them also includes being there for them when things didn’t turn out as expected.
In moments of failure or loss, we want to help them learn that the important thing is we showed up, and we made progress today. When we do that, we’re reminding them that their self-esteem is not tied to the competition results. But it’s how they move forward that matters.
We’re not aiming to create a prolonged, high-strung stressful environment that will promote rigid rote-learning. But instead, we want them to not evade all form of stress in life and learn how to manage their stress through a helpful coping mechanism.
Positive stress can help create enough adrenaline rush and a sense of excitement to keep them motivated to do better. Through challenges and competition, they will be resilient enough to adapt to whatever life throws at them.
Tapping into Other Valuable Soft Skills
Competition creates a space for our young ones to tap into other soft skills. An example of this is a team sport — they get to learn to work well in a team and learn to collaborate.
They will also learn to take a turn, practice courage and empathy for others. Through sport and play-based learning, they will learn to interact in a myriad of ways. Lessons like sportsmanship and extending grace to others and self will help them in their social skills and emotional intelligence.
An example of this would be for those with sibling rivalry. Competition can be a helpful tool for them to navigate around that and, in hopes, replace them with empathy and love. Besides that, they get to learn to communicate and collaborate with their peers and family effectively.
Most importantly, we want to encourage them to try something new out. To be okay with making mistakes and not getting things right the first time. To recognise that failure is part of success. And that includes an assessment, a test, or even a competition. We want them to feel safe expressing how they feel, be it frustration or disappointment, and keep on trying.
Competition To Encourage Growth
While to some parents, competition is something they want to avoid altogether, it can be beneficial for our child. Like with many other things, it has its pro and cons. But we just need to stay focus and ask ourselves: how do we imagine our young child grow up to be?
And how do we get there? Can competition be included in that growing process? As adults, we know better than stress and competition are inevitable in life. Instead of shying away from that, how can we lead by example for our young ones to learn from it?
Indeed, raising hardy children can be challenging but, most definitely, a rewarding journey. Let’s have competition be a part of that journey to aid us along the way. And most importantly, have fun on that journey!
Gifted Kids Asia is passionate about nurturing gifted kids through invested parenting. If you’re keen to learn more about how to optimise your child’s intelligence and potential, you can check out the carefully crafted programs and courses we have in store.