What About Competition? Are Your Kids Ready?

Life is full of competition -- even in childhood. Kids compete for good grades, the attention of their parents and teachers, and even to get picked for 'the right team' in gym class. There's nothing wrong with encouraging healthy competition in your children. It can teach kids to perform at their best while encouraging teamwork and fostering a strong work ethic. Competition can teach valuable lessons about discipline, preparation and sportsmanship. Best of all, it can help to prepare them for other challenges they will face in life.

But the key word here is "healthy."

We've all witnessed unhealthy competition: the over-involved parents who embarrass their children by shouting from the sidelines during every game, or the parents who are disappointed when their child fails to bring home the first place ribbon, the best grade on the test or the lead in the school play.

Sometimes, adults don't accept that our kids won't always win. Unfortunately, when that happens, we can do more than damage their self-image... we may just be teaching them an unhealthy, win at-all-costs attitude. And, as adults, we know that such an attitude doesn't seem to serve anyone well.

Winning and losing both have valuable lessons to teach. Parents who remember that can give their kids a competitive advantage.

Andrea Patten is the co-author of What Kids Need to Succeed: Four Foundations of Adult Achievement which is now available on

For more information about 'The Four Foundations' please visit

"...because you're not raising a child - you're raising a future adult"

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