By: Robert Helfst
Competition is everywhere. From sporting events to academia to competing for promotions in the workplace, it’s all around us. So if we are faced with competition every day we know our ninjas are faced with it too. How do we raise competitive kids without making winning their only objective?
Why is Competition Good for Children?
Many things come from healthy competition, but one of the most important ones is innovation. If we didn’t ourselves and each other to be better we’d stay stagnant at the same point forever. Our ninjas are no different. By creating a competitive drive in our kids we improve their futures.
Not only is competition important in sports, but in academia too. Your child’s drive for success will be apparent both on the court or field and in the classroom. And while the lessons can be tough, losing is even more important than winning in competition. We never want to see our ninjas lose, but it is important for developing their grit and showing them not to give up even when they don’t succeed.
Building a Ninja’s Competitive Spirit
There are many ways to build a ninja’s competitive spirit. The easiest way is to build some competition into your ninja’s life is by getting them active in competitive sports. There are so many different sports to choose from too! So there’s something for everyone. Some of the most readily available competitive sports are:
Outside of organized sports, competition can be built at home. It can be anything from competing while playing games together to who can complete the most chores in a time period (really a huge win for you). Competition doesn’t have to come with prizes – most of the time the glory of winning is enough. Another lesson that can strengthen a competitive spirit in a good way is by challenging a ninja to be competitive with themselves. Competing with themselves in things like academics, kindness, and challenging themselves in sports can create a better self-image by showing them how much they are really capable of.
The Balance Between Competition and Fun
Fun and competition really go hand in hand and really are the same thing most of the time. But, there are times when competition isn’t fun. It can seem more like pressure, aggression, and challenges that just can’t be completed.
So how do we keep competition fun? It all starts with you. Teaching a healthy competitive spirit starts with the example that you set for your ninja. By being encouraging instead of yelling, teaching good sportsmanship not only to their teams but to opposing teams, and by not using things like trash-talking and intimidation.
Hard work doesn’t mean not having fun, and to get kids to stay active in team sports they have to enjoy the time spent on that activity. If you are the type of parent who volunteers for coaching opportunities it is your job and responsibility to show your athletes how to be competitive and respectful while still having fun. Take cues from your team. While hitting every shot is important on the court, so is having a laugh with your team in order to build more of a family feel. Finding the balance between competition and fun can mean giving your athletes more agency in how practices are run, including them in playmaking and line-ups, and listening to their opinions on what they think the strengths of the team are.
Drawbacks of Competition
While we try to keep competition fun no matter what, sometimes it’s really not. While helping our ninjas gain a competitive spirit, we also have to teach them that not everything is a competition. There can be other drawbacks too. Competition against themselves can so quickly turn into unhealthy self-judgment and feeling inadequate. When it comes to feelings like these, it is important to remind your ninja of their strengths and that not everyone succeeds at the same things. Parents set the greatest example of a healthy competitive spirit. Instead of yelling on the sidelines and overdoing the competitiveness that you show your athlete, pat them on the back and tell them the things that they’ve done well. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter if it was a win or a loss, it just matters that they have had fun.
Everyone ends up with a competitive streak in some way. It’s up to you to create a healthy relationship between your ninja and competition. The right guidance and insight from you can help serve your children for the rest of their lives.