It’s all around us, competition, competition, competition. You see this spirit of rivalry in the arenas of academics, spelling bees, sports, activities, and in the arts. The ages of children being pressured to be the best is becoming younger and younger. In a world of many talents but not enough top spots, parents are pushing their children more now than ever to be competitive to the fullest and win. ‘2nd best is not good enough try harder, don’t settle for less, you have to beat your opponent no matter what ’ is what you will hear parents spewing at their kids on an almost daily basis.
In many ways motivating and encouraging your kids to do their best academically, in their chosen sport, activity, or skill is a great thing and aids in kids self-esteem by helping them to believe in themselves, their talents, and abilities. Yet too much pressure on the part of a parent can have adverse affects on the child leading to stress, doubt, and a feeling of fear that they will disappoint those supportive of them who also have extremely high hopes.
Our kids look to us as an example and if we appear to be disappointed in them when they don’t win, which by the way will happen at some point no matter how fabulous they are, they will learn to be disappointed and judge themselves harshly when they miss the mark. It’s perfectly fine to set your children to high standards and have them work for goals, I do this as well, but I also teach them that no matter what they do as long as they do it to the best of their ability they are always a winner. It’s more than just saying this as well, but allowing yourself to accept and mean it. They will know if you’re simply trying to make them feel better but deep down you’re truly frustrated with their placement.
We as parents have to learn something that I believe is difficult for most of us (including myself) and that is to allow our children the opportunity to fail. This is a natural part of life and whatever they do if they continue on they will eventually fall short. The sooner they learn this, the better. You are teaching them that in life no one wins all of the time, is happy all of the time, is successful all of the time, or is the best all of the time. As much as we want our kids to succeed, this is a healthy lesson for them to learn, we had to experience it and our children cannot avoid this either. We can’t intervene at every junction, or push too hard. There is balance to everything, including finding the thin line between encouragement and heavy expectations and demands.