Do We Have A Competitive Nature Or Is It Forced Upon Us?

Published on: Wed 16 July 2014 by Admin

We encounter competition in many different ways throughout our lives.

I’ve spent a lot of time recently attending a range of competitive activities with my daughter.

They’ve made me think about whether we naturally have a competitive side, or it’s just forced into us by our parents, as we grow up.

As a child, I can’t really remember many of my sports events at school; although I do remember being in the cross-country team at 14 years of age.

Even though I wasn’t the best, I did always strive to do well and I usually came in the top five. I’m not sure if that’s because I wanted to do well and had the ability, or because it was forced upon me as a child that I had to ‘win’, to be the best!

Competitive nature? – Honestly, I don’t know

I’ve noticed at recent events with my daughter, that many parents differ in their approach to how their children take part in activities, dance festivals, and competitions. Take my daughter’s recent school sports day for example.
Parents arrived; settled in, chose the best spots, so that they could support their children as they took part. Children all strolled out of the classroom one at a time and took their positions on the mats…It’s amazing how many little children can fit on! They’re all so excited to see their parents waving at them, with big smiles and excitement.

Get ready, get set, on your marks….GO!

After the children lined up to start the running race, is when I heard a mixture of opinions from different parents on how important it is, or isn’t, to win.

  • You have the parent who screams at their child whilst they are running. “Go faster, go faster!” they shout.
  • There’s the supportive parents that clap and cheer not only for their child, but all the other children taking part as well.
  • Some openly say “there’s no room for second place – you win or you don’t”.
  • A lady told me that her child hates spaghetti bolognese. She threatens him by saying that he’ll have it for dinner if he didn’t win! She not only does this for sports day, but numerous other competitions that her child takes part in as well.

Personally, I think that we’re all gifted with different strengths in life. Some of us are blessed with being highly intellectual, some may be great sports people whilst are just good all rounders.

At the age of six, a trophy is very important

I’ve always encouraged my daughter to do her best, if she comes first or last it doesn’t make any difference.

She always strives to do well – if she comes first, second, or third she’s happy. However, she’s never come last at anything for me to understand what her reaction would be. I would imagine that she would not be happy at all. Not because she’ll think that I would be disappointed or upset with her but because as an individual, she sees that getting one of these positions means that you get recognised with a badge, or certificate and if you don’t – you get nothing!

Sporting greats pushed by elders?

I often ponder whether the great sports people that we have such as David Beckham, Johnny Wilkinson, Tiger Woods, Tim Henman, Mo Farah, Ben Johnson, and Tom Daley have achieved what they have because their parents pushed them to be competitive, because they had the natural talent, or it’s a combination of both?

So, where do you sit on this – how important do you think it is to win? Should you encourage your child to believe that there’s no room in life, for second place?