While some parents might balk at putting their kids into competitive situations, it has been consistently argued that competition is good for children. Among other things, it helps to build confidence, perseverance and self-belief, and can be great for boosting a child’s self-esteem. Competition at an early age can also help prepare kids for the inherent competitiveness of adult life, in both their professional and personal relationships.
That’s why it’s a good idea for parents to encourage the competitive spirit in their children. While excessive competitiveness can of course be bad for both your child and kids around them, a healthy focus on competition will help kids to learn what it is that makes someone a good competitor and enable them to develop the good habits that will serve them well in later life. Encouraging the competitive spirit is as much about promoting fair play, honesty and integrity as it is about helping them win, and can generally help to build a child’s character.
But what are the best ways to encourage competitiveness, and are some children just not suited to traditionally competitive activities? Clearly, getting your child involved with sports is one of the most effective ways to engender the competitive spirit. Not only does it keep your child fit while giving them an opportunity to make friends, it also introduces them to the principle of striving for success and the sense of achievement that comes with winning.
What’s great about sport is that there are so many different options for kids, from team sports like football or rugby to more individual pursuits such as swimming or martial arts. Both types bring unique benefits. Team games emphasise the importance of teamwork, good communication and working for others, while individual activities help kids to develop self-control, discipline and focus. Martial arts also often encourage participation regardless of ability and are a more accessible option for non-sporty kids.
Of course, some children will rebel at the idea of doing sports and it may be counter-productive to force them into it. Fortunately, many other activities contain a competitive element and can easily be integrated into your domestic life. Board and card games, for instance, put the focus on a battle of wits and can help to show kids that success is not just a case of being faster or stronger than someone else. Introducing them to an activity like chess is a particularly good idea, as it helps to develop skills such as patience and forward planning as well as honing their competitive edge.
All in all, healthy encouragement of the competitive spirit can have a positive impact on your child and will aid many aspects of their development. While it may take a bit of work finding the perfect activity for them, there are so many different options out there that something is bound to suit their personality. And of course, the best thing you can do is set a good example for your kids by displaying the competitive spirit in your own life and through your own behaviour.