You cheer when they announce the team your son is on has won the competition.
Everybody is coming to the sideline to receive congratulations, except your son. He’s still in the middle of the field, doing a crazy little victory dance for all to see.
When he reunites with his teammates, you can hear his voice outshouting everybody else. He’s bragging about his contribution to the game as if he had single-handedly won the victory for the whole team.
A little childish bragging isn’t unusual. As children grow and develop more abilities, it’s only natural that they want to show them off.
In fact, competition can help your child continue to push their limits and do their best. After all, reaching a goal is an enormous confidence booster. Plus, they learn that it takes hard work to keep achieving their goals.
However, what if your child is more than a little competitive? How can you help them to achieve more balance?
Consider the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of parenting a hyper-competitive child.
Do focus on the positive – No matter if they win or lose, help them learn and grow from the experience. When you give support and encouragement, your child can participate in competitive activities without the fear of losing.
Do model how to be a gracious winner or loser – Be an example and show them how to control their emotions – as winner or loser. Praise your child’s efforts and help them understand it’s important to respect the other participants and admire their efforts as well.
Do look for opportunities to teach – Use the things they can observe in the world around them to make them see the downfalls of being hyper-competitive. Help them to understand that it’s not okay to damage personal relationships or get hurt just to be the winner.
Do teach your child the right focus for competition – Praise their efforts, not the results. Help them to connect their successes with doing their personal best. Eventually, outshining others won’t matter so much to them.
Do let your child live their own life – Allow them to choose what activities they would like to pursue and at what level they want to compete. Then they can take pride in their own successes and learn from their own defeats.
Don’t measure your parenting by your child’s achievements – It may be tempting to push your own ideas on your child and live vicariously through their accomplishments. But neither is it good for you to gauge your parenting skills that way nor is it healthy for your child.
Don’t have your approval depend on their success – Never make your child feel that your love depends on them being better than everyone else. Burdening your child with this kind of stress may cause them to shy away from any activities that they think will risk your approval.
Don’t encourage bragging – Be careful how you talk about your child’s accomplishments or your own. If they hear you bragging about besting someone else, they may learn to imitate that. Teach them to be proud of their achievements, but there’s no need to gloat.
Don’t foster competition – It may seem innocent, but coaxing your children into a race of who can clean up their room faster is promoting competition. Instead, praise your child’s accomplishments – commending them for something specific – without pitting them against others.
Lamentably, being overly competitive can cause your child to see everybody as a threat and an obstacle to their goals. It may also make them think that a single failure could keep them from ever being successful in their life. Neither view is healthy.
So, make it very clear to them – competition is not the be-all and end-all of life!