Competition and Kids – why I think competition is good

Lately, I’m hearing a lot about how schools and camps are striving to ensure every child is treated fairly and gets equal time on equal activities. Call it the great equalization of childhood – where everyone should strive for everything to be fair and equal. Sounds sort of tranquil and definitely non-confrontational. Also sounds completely divorced from any connection to reality.

The world is competitive.
Some people are better at things than others.
Some people like to do things more than others.

When is it a good time for kids to learn those three universal truths? Some parents and educators say we should wait until they are “older” and until they have the self-confidence to deal with the disappointment.

News flash – the kids already know and any efforts to mask the competition is, in my opinion, a waste of energy and ultimately, unfair to everyone. Benjamin recognized that Taylor was gifted at sports when Taylor was 4 and Benjamin was 6. It frustrates Benjamin but that doesn’t change the reality. So now he practices lacrosse by throwing lacrosse balls at Taylor who is using his baseball mitt to catch the lacrosse balls (moving over 50 mph). Taylor then whips the ball back at Benjamin. They’ve figured out a way to play where both of them practice their skills and improve.

As parents, we cannot treat our children equally because they are different. It’s ludicrous to try. In school and in camp, competition and different abilities is reality. Rather than suppress the differences, we should be leveraging them to help everyone learn and play. I think giving everyone a turn is a good idea but competition when playing is good practice for life and the sooner kids start practicing, the better – as long as we can keep them playing. Competition shouldn't drive kids to quit something they enjoy - it may drive them to practice and ultimately teach them to leverage the talents of all the players on the team because ultimately team sports depend on everyone's contribution, not just one or two players. What do you think about competition and how are you creating opportunities for your kids to play off each other’s talents?