The way we raise our kids to handle competition often doesn’t get enough play in our homes. Competition is an aspect of development that we need to help our kids have a healthy approach to because sooner or later they will be placed in a situation in which they will be forced to compete. Athletic pursuits can be really helpful for this.
Sports and competition is fun and valuable for teaching kids about life in the real world. There’s something that comes from being a part of a team effort in some sport that can have a huge influence on the way our kids develop. Being a part of football and baseball teams have benefitted me, encouraging me to remember the team dynamic.
But sports and competition can often be a toxic presence in your household. Too often, we’ve heard of parents going toe to toe with another parent over something that happened in a junior hockey game, or seen that parent who has “encouraged” their son or daughter during the game to the point that they were unable to perform at all. Unfortunately, I’ve come to close to that in the times that I’ve coached my own kids.
Parents, we cannot allow ourselves to fall into the emotional feeling that our kids must succeed and that their team must win. The fact is, losing helps teach too. We can’t relive our childhood playing whatever sport that they’re now involved in. We had our shot, and now we need to let our kids have theirs without riding them too hard to succeed on the field of play. This mentality isn’t just reserved for sports though. Music lessons, dance and even scouting can lead us to this negative influence.
It’s fine to hope our kids score a goal, hit a home run, or make a basket. It’s great to require them to practice their scales, exercise and keep going when they want to quit. But it’s not okay to yell, ride or otherwise place uncomfortable pressure on them to succeed in the way you define success.
Winning isn’t everything, and the harder you push your kids in an inappropriate way, the less likely they are to even want to participate in the first place.
Instead of focusing on every missed shot, or achievement, stress fundamental principles of the activity they’re in and stress effort and persistence. Lovingly encourage them to go for it, and demonstrate your love and pride whether they go 4-4 with a homerun, or 0-4 with four strikeouts.