How many of you have a competitive child? I’ve got one and it comes with painful shrieks when a game or competition just doesn’t go his way. It’s painful … at least for me it is.
All kids are special and even more so, because of their individual little quirks. Some parents feel lucky when their children pass a growth level without having to deal with common traits that are most prevalent at those particular stages.
For my kid, competitiveness seemed to start at the age of 4, but I have yet to see much of an improvement. I wouldn’t want to squelch his strong spirit but at the same time, I don’t want a sore little loser either.
As any parent would, you want to cultivate a strong spirit but a kind/empathetic one as well. Teaching them at a young age that it’s ok to lose is not only great for their self-esteem, but it generates an even temperament for them as well.
I know, this sounds a little odd but the more they understand that losing is ok, the more they can handle it. Of course, you don’t want to make your child complacent but you don’t want them to be out of control either.
If they have other siblings, have them play games with them and remind them it’s ok to let their siblings win. We all know that younger siblings usually can’t hold up to older siblings so if this is an option, have them practice losing as something that’s good and helping others to feel good about themselves. This will help them have a more positive feeling connected to losing in general.
Talk to Them
For the most part, kids don’t always understand how their actions may be affecting others around them. If you know of an incident or catch them in the act of being overly competitive to where it’s not healthy, talk to them about it. Help them see how that might make others feel.
Kids are smarter than we sometimes give them credit for. Being honest with them and helping them see their faults through someone else’s eyes is a great way to help them understand what they’ve done wrong.
A strong competitive nature can stem from something that happened in the early part of your child’s life. With any psychological connection, they themselves may never know why they push to be so competitive and you as a parent, educator, etc. may never know why either.
Having to find out exactly where their competitive nature stemmed from is not always necessary, but it’s a great way for them to know they can vent and talk to you if they need to. Sometimes reacting in a negative manner, which in this case could be the reason behind the competitive behavior, is a way for kids to release feelings they have.
So do your best not to push them aside when they’re trying to talk to you about something. Give them opportunities to talk while you just listen and give them an environment where they feel comfortable talking about their feelings.
Focus on the Fun
It can be easy for a parent to push their child to be the best. However, when it comes to the games or reason behind the competitive activities, make sure the focus is on the fun component. Be sure that you get involved in NOT making sure all the focus is on the winner. Praise all the kids for their efforts. Make it about the team as a whole so that kids don’t feel like they have to win to get praised or receive attention.
It’s important to remember that each child is different. Not all of them respond to the same techniques so it may take trying new things before they understand what it means to be a good sport.