After our weekly netball match last week, one of my team mates mentioned that I was the most competitive on the team. I was mortified. Me? Competitive? Surely Not? Really? Oh, maybe…..a little…..yeah kind of…..well no point in playing if you’re just there to chuck a ball around….gotta be in it to win it…damn it, yes. I like to win.
She was right.
Put plainly, life is a competition folks and there are no prizes for coming last. We don’t tell our staff that simply turning up to work will give you the promotion. Our bosses certainly don’t tell us that just trying your best is good enough. As parents we certainly don’t just do the bare minimum to keep the kids alive (well, sometimes but that’s just when we’re over them and TIRED), no, we try to be the best parents we can be.
So this raises the question, should we be teaching our kids that winning actually does matter?
Winning never really matters until you have the ribbon in your hand. When you have that precious ribbon, the scoreboard on your side or trophy in your hand, all of a sudden winning really does matter.
Ask your kids who the best in their class is at maths, english, reading, sport or singing and they’ll tell you. They KNOW and admire those kids who are good at things. Likewise, when your own child wins, they are given an uber hit of confidence that validates they’re good at something. Team sport is the best at this as there is nothing greater than sharing in a win with team mates. Feeling the high of a win at an early age and the low of a loss is a GOOD THING. Life isn’t always handing out merit awards to everyone just for turning up. Winning teaches us all that good things come to those who work hard.
Naturally it’s important to teach the little one’s the importance of good sportsmanship and recognition for participation and trying your best but the facts are, not everyone can be the best and kids aren’t stupid. They KNOW who the best is and the best is something to aspire to. No point in being mediocre.
I’m not saying our kids have to be the best at everything. There’s no point in that, being the best at everything would be exhausting. I know the parents of some overachiever kids who have an overwhelming need to exceed at everything and the parents are anxious and highly strung and the kids are either going to rebel against the pushy parent or end up with a very decent drug habit before 18. It’s just not sustainable. And it’s annoying.
Most of us would have quoted the saying “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” This is an excellent statement to boost the confidence of 8 year olds who just got smashed in a game of soccer because the arseholes on the other team cheated and your kids kept their integrity in tact. However, there are times when winning IS important. Kids who have a healthy competitive spirit know how hard they need to try to win the game, the race, the prize or get the A+ on the test and it makes the high of winning so much better.
We’re currently living in an age of political correctness where in true Oprah style, we tend to give out prizes to everyone for just running on the court [Insert Oprah’s voice here] “You get an award, You get an award, YOU ALL GET AN AWARD” Does anyone else think we are losing our competitive edge?
The competition in this house has reached fever pitch in the last couple of weeks (which is why I’ve not been blogging a lot). We had the school cross country run, an inter school dance competition, rugby, basketball semi finals and the beginning of netball. It’s been competition central and 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards were being handed out almost daily.
To date my lot have been fairly average at most things but there have been a couple of highs throughout the week which have given them a fabulous boost to keep up the hard work and a reason for Mum and Dad to load praise on them and a reason to keep trying. Likewise the comments of encouragement for their friends who won the cross country were admirable “Mum, did you see how fast TS, SH and SO ran today? They were awesome, I’m going to train next year and try to improve my time”. They weren’t gutted they didn’t win, they were genuinely proud of their mates who they know are keen runners. They admire them. THankfully there was a time or place recorded for all kids in the race, Each of them can now try to win and improve upon their placing next year.
Meantime I’m dumbfounded by the sporting organisations who won’t let you record the scores, who won’t let the kids train and bang on about building skills and ignoring the purpose to get on the court or field. Sure, keep it fun and keep competitive parents out of it but for goodness sake, at least teach them WHY they’re trying to score tries, goals and WHY they want to strive for an A+ at school. They may not hit the mark and it doesn’t really matter if they do win or lose but as long as the expectation is there and they’re striving for the A or to get more goals than the other team, they’re going to be trying as hard as they can rather than thinking they can muck around because it doesn’t matter.
DOES ANYONE ELSE AGREE THAT TEACHING KIDS TO WIN IS IMPORTANT?