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Is competition healthy or bad for kids?

Momma told us as children “let the jealousy make you want to be and do better not angry and bitter” That is the philosophy we  live by.

My sister and I was never raised in a competitive  environment. Our parents never pushed us into doing something we did not like but rather directed us into the ones we did enjoy. We both went to free art classes in National Library because they realized one of us  gravitated towards art and wanted us to be exposed to as many positive ideas as possible. We had fun gymnastic lessons at the National Stadium because tell me of any child who did not enjoy some tumble here and there. Of course those piano and organ lessons as well. We can both read notes though none of us are using it to be writing music any time soon. Pre Google, it was a task to find these activities but our parents somehow did. These were fun activities that pretty much shaped my own personal views and the path we decided to take. My parents never compared us  with the girl who could do more tumble in gymnastics or the boy who could play the organ or piano beautifully without much fumble. Even as sisters, we were allowed to develop our own interest and did not spend time bickering on who was better at what. 

Competition can be seen through two lenses. One is the desire to always compete with the person next to you to get that top spot and secondly, competing with yourself in order to be a better person and acknowledging your own strengths and weaknesses.

That is not to say we were lazy children. We both developed a sense of competition with ourselves which  meant we had the opportunity to grow at our pace. When we failed, we were often told to try and be better but was never scolded. Some kids would dread coming home with their report cards; but never us, maybe just embarassment on the older sister’s part because admittedly the younger one always got the better grade or higher position in class, but never fear. Life was a lot of learning about how to cope with things around us and not so much grades. 

We learned to develop a healthy self esteem as opinions of others does not sway our own opinion of ourselves . We try not to buy into it. My sister never found the need to be competitive with another student. I was always a little envious, but again, learning how to channel it inside results in developing empathy and the ability to not  judge ourselves to harsh as long as we both know we did put in the effort. 

Competitiveness does not need to equate sense of arrogance or superiority in life, or among social circles and causing lack of social skills, that is not what we are talking about or competitiveness that skews the definition of success. What we are referring to is teaching children healthy dose of competitiveness  that sets inside an inside question as to ‘Yes .. I have done the best I can this time I can make it better?

Never let that inner competitiveness turn to be too much of a sense of perfection, over analyzing, or  overthinking and put you in a space of always second guessing yourself. 

Life is all about balance. Healthy competition is necessary to improve oneself but needs to be done mindfully. It is not about outdoing others or at the detriment to one’s self worth. It is about keeping a healthy self esteem and developing emotional intelligence in all of us. 


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