Moms Talk: Is Competition Good for Kids?
There’s a growing trend in kids’ sports and activities that takes competition out of the game. In this week’s Moms Talk we discuss whether a little friendly competition is good for a child’s character.
Every spring when I walk down the aisles of Easter decorations, candy and plastic eggs at my favorite stores, I think about my daughter’s first egg hunt.
I was new to Georgia and had just met a wonderful group of moms and kids. They organized fun activities all the time, and Sailor and I were thrilled when they announced their plans for an egg hunt.
I had fond memories of egg hunts from my childhood, and I was excited for Sailor to have that experience.
We arrived at the park one sunny morning with our dozen filled eggs and pink basket in tow. Some of the more seasoned moms stood up to tell us how the hunt would go. We’d roll the eggs out on the grass, and each child could pick up twelve eggs. Everyone brought twelve eggs, everyone leaves with twelve eggs. Fair! Good!
Only, one of the best egg hunt memories for me was the excitement of the scramble. Your heart pounding as you run quickly through the yard, eyes darting to every hollow, every low tree branch, searching. Elbowing your sister in the eye and snatching up the prize egg first. I’m just kidding about that last part. Mostly.
I wondered how this fair egg hunt would play out. As it happens, it played out very slowly. The kids wandered aimlessly through the grass, slowly bending to examine an egg and decide if it was worthy to be one of their twelve. I saw kids pick up eggs and then put them back down in lieu of finding another one they liked better. I was baffled.
Later, when we were gathered with our family for Easter lunch, I shared the story of Sailor’s first egg hunt. The family shared my chagrin over the rules, deeming it “the communist egg hunt.” Eleven years later we still joke about it -- usually on Easter Sunday as the kids are flying through my mom’s yard with elbows out and game faces on, searching for the coveted cash egg and trying to fill their baskets to the brim.
My husband and I were raised to compete. In real life nobody’s standing around making sure you get just as many eggs as everyone else. Some people are going to get more, and you can’t throw a fit and smash all your eggs because of that.
Should we be teaching our kids to have a competitive spirit? I think so, and I think some vital life lessons go along with that. It’s important for kids to know they’re not always going to win, even when they’ve tried their hardest. And, they need to know how to be a good loser. Just as importantly, they need to learn how to be a good winner.
What’s your opinion on the new trends in kid competitions, moms? Should everyone leave with the same amount of eggs? Should everyone on the team get a trophy just for participating? What about team sports that don’t keep scores?
Is this okay for young kids, or should we be teaching kids from an early age how to compete and how to win and lose with grace?