Often times, parents avoid “competition” because images of pushing, shoving, trash talking come to mind. It is not exactly what they consider to be a healthy and productive environment. Parents may want to shield their children from disappointment, to not put pressure on them to always be their best, and to not cause unnecessary stress if things go off track. Furthermore, many parents choose to avoid competitive situations and just declare everyone the “winner”.

However, child development experts remind parents that healthy competition is actually favorable for kids. Competitive activities help kids develop important skills that are useful during adulthood like being determined, taking turns, and developing empathy towards other people. Team activities, whether held in classrooms or across the country, can push kids to do better and to improve their performance compared to solo exercises.

According to Po Bronson, author of the book Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing, losing is a lesson both kids and adults should learn. He further stated that if kids do not learn to lose, they will feel entitled to win every time. He added that losing is not a big deal. The fear of losing is going to prevent kids from taking the necessary risks. At a young age, children should to learn to lose, move on, and keep playing.

If children are involved in a healthy competition, they will:

  • a) Ask to join and participate in the activity again.
  • b) Win and lose a game dexterously.

  • c) Want to better themselves and learn new skills.

If children are involved in an unhealthy competition, they will:

  • a) Resist any participation in the activity and fake an illness just avoid it all cost.
  • b) Straightforwardly say that they will not participate.
  • c) Show signs of depression, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, or loss of appetite.

Timothy Gunn, a pediatric neuropsychologist, says “Competition helps kids learn that it is not always the best or the brightest who are successful, but rather those that work hard and stick with it”. He also stated that children who participate in various competitions gain significant social skills through communicating with other children, while also grasping the importance of hard work and developing confidence. It is also conducive for your kids to learn how to be a team player.

In an academic setting, chess competitions, math competitions, and science fairs are great for kids. The students are learning more advanced math than they will ever learn in a whole semester of regular classes. Now, your kids can have a strong foundation on mathematics. JAMS is an Abacus-centric math school that uses the Abacus & Anzan method to help your children grow and learn important lifelong skills.

Falling short of winning is not easy for anyone, but remember that kids, who compete regularly, have more opportunities to manage their fears of performing badly. As parents, when kids lose, try to be there to support them and reinforce the message losing is not bad as long as they are giving it their best effort. The important thing is to make sure the environment boosts constructive competition.

About JAMS

JAMS is dedicated to Abacus & Anzan instruction and to building a strong foundation of Mental Mathematics along with lifelong skills. JAMS empowers children to achieve success with the Abacus, so they will grow in areas that go well beyond the classroom. This is the teaching approach at JAMS since opening its doors in 2001.