Have you ever used or heard the phrase, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose… it’s how you play the game.” And, if you’re a parent with a kid who has ever participated in sports, I’m positive you’ve used that exact line!
But, it reminded me of a story about a high school athlete named Meghan. As a seasoned competitor, she had just won a prestigious state title. And, to make it even better, she was actually the first girl to win that particular title in over 20 years! However, while competing in her last race of the day, a fellow competitor collapsed on the field.
At that point, Meghan made – to some – a surprising choice. Instead of continuing to run toward her inevitable state championship title, Meghan stopped in her tracks to help the fallen student. Later, she told reporters, helping her fellow competitor across the finish line was more satisfying than winning.
I just had to share that with you today, because it illustrates a very valuable perspective on competition. You see, I encounter a lot of parents who try to protect their kids from competition.
Now, don’t get me wrong – competition can be destructive and extremely negative. This applies particularly to certain personality types, who can take competition pretty seriously. Yet, if your kids don’t know how to handle competition or to always steer clear of it, it will hurt them in the long run. Believe it or not, healthy competition DOES exist!
Taking the right approach – with the proper guidance – training and grooming children about competition, from a healthy perspective, can inspire growth, teach them to always give their best, be ambitious and reach for goals bigger than they ever thought possible. On the other hand, unhealthy competition can cause jealousy, anger, stress, resentment and conflict.
But what happens if you don’t teach your kids about healthy competition? Neither alternative is good: Either they learn to be afraid of competition or go to the other extreme and become too competitive!
When you talk about competition, it’s easy to immediately think in terms of sports. But our children can experience competition in a variety of activities, such as debate, band, academics or any other activity they display a passion for. Why rob your kids of the opportunity to learn about teamwork and push themselves toward excellence… among the greatest benefits of participation in sports and extracurricular activities?!