Some people consider ‘competition’ to be a dirty word when it comes to raising kids. After all, no one wants their kids to feel anxious, stressed out, or disappointed if they don’t succeed.
For this reason, some parents, teachers, and coaches have a tendency to try to shield children from disappointment, either by completely avoiding any competitive situations or by declaring all competitors as ‘winners.’
Unfortunately, this can mean that children are unprepared to face disappointment in the ‘real world’ as they grow up and deal with situations that occur in everyone’s lives- such as missing out on a dream job, getting overlooked for a promotion, or failing an important test.
A study published in 1999 found that kids in a competitive environment will play for longer compared to those in a non-competitive environment. At the same time, they also have a greater feeling of competence. Competition makes activities relevant, motivating kids to work hard for reward and recognition for their efforts.
New experiences and challenges are crucial for kids, giving them the opportunity to reach for success while inspiring them to want even more success in the future.
In team sports like football, kids have to work with other individuals (all with unique abilities and knowledge) to achieve a common goal (winning a game).
The world is a competitive place. As adults, we compete when applying for university, buying a house, finding a job, and more. If kids are sheltered from competition, winning, and defeat when they’re young, how can they be expected to come to terms with it when they’re adults? It’s unfair to expect adults to suddenly to be gracious when winning or losing if they’ve had no experience with either as children.
The right kind of competition should allow kids to receive feedback about their performance. That way, they can see how they can improve and work on the skills needed. The goal should never be to win at all costs, but should instead be about self-improvement, collaborating with others, and continually learning from both success and failure.
Failure not only motivates kids to improve their skills and work harder, but it ensures that they’ll be healthy adults that won’t freeze or crumble the moment things get tough. Of course, this doesn’t mean competing for the sake of competing, or just winning for the sake of winning. Kids should be encouraged to look at their performance constructively, learning from themselves and others, and developing a growth mindset.
A growth mindset is when kids understand their current abilities or skills but believe that those skills can improve and develop with practice and effort. This mindset is hugely important for both kids and adults, and it allows an individual to continually improve while enjoying friendly competition.
Most importantly, kids should be taught that competition isn’t only about whether they win or lose. Instead, they need to learn that it’s really about setting goals and accomplishing those goals- focusing on what they can and can’t control. For parents, coaches, and teachers, there’s one last thing to remember: Kids are not little adults. Their brains are still developing, and the level of competition they face should be based on their age- with a greater focus on fun and participation for younger kids.
Are you looking for healthy competition and a supportive environment for your child? Football could be exactly what you’re looking for. Get in touch with our team today to learn more.