Why Do You Compete?
It seems like there are always a lot of competitive possibilities for young people. These include summer athletics, special camps, 4-H fairs, contests and other events. Now, its important to know how competition motivates you to do your best, but its also important to know how to cooperate, not just compete.
The most healthy way to look at competition is to compete against your own accomplishments, not others. An example is a swimmer who works to improve his or her own best time in an event. Its important to recognize when good enough is good enough, and set realistic goals.
The philosophy, "We all can win", can be a great way for all members of a team or club to achieve their goal together. Everyone achieving their goal receives rewards. On the other hand, the "I win, you lose" competition is based on the comparison of performance between competitors. In this type of competition, its always important to use good sportsmanship. But if win/lose competition is the only kind of competition you become involved in, you wont learn the fun of competing in other ways.
We have been taught that competition is required to help us reach our fullest potential. Excessive competition without cooperation creates undesirable results in children. They learn that the most important thing in life is winning. This can lead to breaking the law or being dishonest in order to win. For those who dont win, it develops an attitude of failure. If children feel they have to be constantly competitive, they will lose interest in learning. Children will not learn to trust others and to work as a group for a common purpose. With excessive competition, there may be more fights and violence among children.
Competition should be an opportunity for children to learn to strive and participate for the sake of becoming good at a skill or ability, not just to get ahead of others.
Source: University of Minnesota Extension Service, InfoU script