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Staying In The Moment: Competition

Updated on July 11, 2016

Getting Ready to Compete . . .

Keep your eye on the goal!
Keep your eye on the goal! | Source

And so it begins ...

Back when school lunch break included a fifteen minute recess, breaking up to play a quick game of kickball almost brought me to tears. I would quietly wait on the sidelines hoping my name would not be the last called. But as always, everyone well aware of my inability to play well at the sport, my name was called towards the very end.

I never had a desire to play school sports, but at home I was pretty good at keeping up with the rest of our neighborhood gang. I could kick, run, catch, and slide just as well as the others. I can contribute my poor athletic skills at school to my feeling of insecurity among peers. I felt unequal to the competition.

Teaching children the joy of competition builds character. Training them to stay in the moment -- the essence of pure competition -- leads to individual success. Follow me through this thought.

The Feeling of Power

Encouragement enables you to visualize overcoming obstacles.
Encouragement enables you to visualize overcoming obstacles. | Source

The Mind Trick

According to research on the brain and competition by the Institute of Heartmath, our DNA changes shape along with our thoughts. Young minds think about how they don't measure up to the next kid, be it sports or academic competition, this type of noxious thinking sends a message to the brain resulting in anxiety. This personal assessment is injurious, wearing down our body and brain. Constant stress can break down the immune system. Hey parents, perhaps little Annie's stomach aches are not entirely unmerited.

DNA responds to negative feelings by tightening up; DNA codes are toggled off forcing a blackout to other emotions. The effect can be reversed through positive association such as appreciation and love. If a child is encouraged to face up to a challenge through positive coaching it stimulates the brain's DNA, producing brain power. This in turn helps open the mind to learning so that one believes they can overcome difficult circumstances.

The simple truth is helping your child face up to challenges, to focus on the moment, helps increase intelligence in learning and satisfaction in achieving goals. Those impossible competitions stimulate a desire to demonstrate what one can do, in spite of the odds.

The ultimate victory in competition is derived from the inner satisfaction of knowing that you have done your best and that you have gotten the most out of what you had to give.

-- Howard Cosell, Sports Journalist

My Nephews -- Champions at Heart

It's a close race to the finish. Give it your all!
It's a close race to the finish. Give it your all! | Source

How Competitive Are You?

When asked to compete I generally:

See results

Winning Versus Competition

Going back to the playground, everyone wanted to be on the winning team. Association with winners is so invigorating and affirming to a child's mindset. Hand slaps and high fives all around to those celebrating in the winner's circle! For those of us who battled gallantly losing all but our buttons, we shake their hands -- and then head for the comfort of ice cream.

Winning is rewarding. No doubt you have probably felt the thrill of it throughout your lifetime. It is a moment you live forever in your mind! However, winning is addictive, a temporary happiness, which fosters repetitive behavior. Victors are rewarded outwardly -- validation comes from others. The world focuses on those who are successful as we view their actions. Thus, movie stars and athletes easily claim the grand prize based upon spectator approval.

I admit winning is admirable. After all ... someone has to win in any competition, but helping someone understand the purpose of competition is vital to their self-image. There is a certain element of success when the competition is close: when you know you have given it your all and are satisfied with your personal accomplishment.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

-- Phil 2:3-4

Most Competitive Sports & Careers

Ranked in order of difficulty & most challenging:

(Note: Writers we are at the top of the chart!)

Sports

  1. Boxing
  2. Ice Hockey
  3. American Football
  4. Basketball
  5. Wrestling

Careers:

  1. Choreographers
  2. Poets, Lyricists and Creative Writers
  3. Athletes and Sports Competitors
  4. Sales Agents, Securities and Commodities
  5. Sound Engineering Technicians

Source: Business Insider; Top End Sports.com

Reducing Rivalry

Parents, you can ingrain positive competition in those you lead: change the game. What I hear most from parents when consoling their child sounds something like this "Evan (or it may be an Evelyn) has strengths that make him good at this sport, but you are good at other things." This really doesn't build a child's confidence. What one can say is something like "She is good at this sport. No matter, I am proud of you and admire your efforts."

It is difficult to raise a child to believe in themselves. They compare each other on almost everything they do, if you have siblings you know what I'm talking about here. I had seven and we were always in competition about something: who can drink their milk fastest, who can jump higher, who loves mom more (moms love to hear this), and it goes on and on.

It is important to create an enviornment where a youngster can discover it is the process or experience that matters more than the outcome. Obstacles are channels to develop skills, talent, and experience to gain personal validation. I've listed a few points here for consideration in creating an excellent competitor.

  • Comparing a child to a sibling, peer, or even yourself only leads to stress. Talk about setting goals for them and helping them strengthen their personal skills.
  • Avoid making a contest of ordinary tasks. This only leads to disappointment. Cooperation is much better to reinforce as they work together towards a goal.
  • Your love and acceptance should be unconditional, never base it upon your child's performance.
  • Be an example! Role model excellence when it comes to challenges and competitions.

The clip below is a fun look at competition. It reminds me of the times my sisters and brother had contests at home, to the dismay of our parents! It is about five minutes long, but the movie can be stopped at about 3:22 minutes -- the rest is marketing. You will have a good laugh.

Endless Competition!

© 2016 Dianna Mendez

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    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 8 months ago

      I still love a good challenge at my age; you are so right, Christy!

    • profile image

      Christy Birmingham 8 months ago

      I like how you outline the benefit aspects of competition here. While competing often gets a bad reputation, it can certainly be a good thing to challenge people of any age :) Great writing here!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 13 months ago

      Colorfulone, I'm sure those people must think you are a great support to their efforts. Not everyone has to compete, we need more people like you.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 13 months ago from Minnesota

      You have written a very interesting article. I'm not very competitive compared to many people, I'll just let them think they won something even if it means they are in the dark.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 13 months ago

      Bravewarrior, yes, competition is in all aspects of life. We can use it to build our character if we view it as such. Hats off to you for your wise words shared here today.

    • profile image

      Bravewarrior 13 months ago

      Excellent post, Dianna. Competition shouldn't be about coming off as better than someone else, rather being the best you can be. By challenging and motivating yourself, you can build a healthy sense of competition to always strive for the next level.

      Competition isn't confined to the sports arena. We find competition in all aspects of life and ourselves.

      Again, great post!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 13 months ago

      Deb, I admire your attitude on competition as an individual challenge. That is exactly what we hope to inspire in all children. Glad you came by today.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 13 months ago

      I agree with your thought on helping children to carry on in spite of a loss, Vellur. I hope parents catch on to this truth. May your week go well for you, dear friend.

    • profile image

      Deb Hirt 13 months ago

      I didn't have any siblings, but we used to compete to some degree. Baseball was always my favorite sport, and still is. I am competitive by nature, as it always give me the chance to strive to be better, but that is just me.

      Some kids don't have an interest in sports or competition, and that is all good. We need different people in this world to do different things. Nice topic.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 14 months ago from Dubai

      Winning is rewarding no doubt, but it is the participation that counts. Parents should help their children to carry on even if they do not win and not get discouraged.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 14 months ago

      CC, fostering cooperation is what we should aim for when coaching children during challenges. Great add to the content!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 14 months ago

      Jodah, there is a time for winning at all costs but it comes after one is completely mature and able to grasp the meaning of competition. Competition itself, in general, should be an opportunity to improve one's talent and skill. Thanks for the contribution of thought.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 14 months ago

      RTalloni, we can only help a child when we send encouraging messages from the heart. They will learn to enjoy their challenges.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 14 months ago

      Kathleen, you have the right approach on helping kids develop skills and talent. I'm sure they will eventually find their purpose as you guide them through the maze of life.

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      MsDora 14 months ago

      Thanks for emphasizing the importance of giving the best effort and the parent's influence when they praise that effort. You have given very wise counsel on the setback of competition just for the sake of competition. There are so many winners who are overlooked because they are not first.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 14 months ago from Western NC

      What a fascinating read! Something about my years of study with Latino culture is that it tends to be cooperative. I try to foster that mentality with the students with whom I work.

      This is yet another awesome example of "you are what you think." Truly!

      Thank you for sharing this info!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 14 months ago from Queensland Australia

      This is an excellent hub, Dianna. Competition is a healthy endeavor but there is a fine line between enjoying it as a test of oneself and taking it too seriously (win at all costs attitude).

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 14 months ago from the short journey

      This balanced look at competition is heartening. Discouragement is a sad thing to see in children but this interesting post can help parents and teachers be encouragers.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 14 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      SHARING this excellent hub - especially since school is about to start back. When I hear my grandchildren say they aren't good at something (10 & 7) I remind them that they still have growing and developing to do and it is too soon to know what they will eventually be good at. Keep trying new things and give it time. Hope that helps them!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 14 months ago

      Jackie, bravo! You have the right attitude and concept of competition. It's amazing how you adopted this view from such an early age. Some times our shortcoming (no pun intended) force us to face a challenge. Blessings!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 14 months ago

      Denise, you certainly were taught competition at an early age. I am glad you chose to follow your heart and teach your children the good side of life's challenges. Thank you for sharing from your personal experience.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 14 months ago

      Larry, it is so true. Competition is good but when it becomes a goal it is too much.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 14 months ago from The Beautiful South

      I guess I have a house full of brothers to thank for my competitiveness and feelings of adequacy. I was so short and small growing up but it never stopped me from trying out for almost everything and I cannot remember a thing I wanted I didn't get. Even in volley ball I was so very short compared to many of the best players but I was best at blocking spikes! Trophies nor rewards mattered to me though, just the accomplishment was all I needed. I was so very lucky.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 14 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I grew up with two older brothers. I always wanted to be a boy, and was keenly disappointed when my parents insisted that I stay at home and be involved in housework while my older brothers helped Dad on the farm. I grew to hate housework! Unfortunately, the brother just older than me drowned in a freak accident, and my other older brother was later injured, forcing me out on the farm. I never could measure up! The days I spent trying to please my Dad were the seeds of long-standing feelings of not being good enough that stayed with me through my adult years. As a result, as a parent, I made sure that my children had equal opportunity to do both housework and outside chores, so that none of them would end hating home like I did! You are right, competition can be both a blessing and a curse, depending upon how we see ourselves in relationship to it!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 14 months ago from southern USA

      Excellent hub. It's funny when someone tells me I cannot do something, then I prove them wrong LOL.

      I'm not so good at sports, but I always gave it my best. I am a lot more competitive in so many other areas though.

      I'm not one to believe every child should get a big trophy just for participating, and that it is important to understand that some lose and some win in this life.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 14 months ago from Oklahoma

      Some manner of competition is necessary, but too much stock in competition is toxic.

      Great read.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 14 months ago

      Venkatachari, Thank you for your kind support of this post. I hope it helps parents understand how to coach children to accept the process and value competition.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 14 months ago

      Bill, I love your comment. I know you can compete well and enjoy the thrill of it all. However, you are usually in the center "winners" ring. LOL!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 14 months ago

      Ruchira, I know students who refuse to go out for any type of competition because they feel inadequate to those who consistently win. They say it is always the same people who win -- why try. Yes, no one wants to be known as a loser but they do not even attempt to compete.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 14 months ago

      ChitrangadaSharan, if only some parents would let their child play alone -- meaning without parent intervention. They do at times tend to make things worse.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 14 months ago

      Eric, my brother was a super athlete as well. He played football, baseball, basketball, and so on. Excelled in all. As you can relate, it made me a better competitor going up against a sibling who could show me the ropes at home. Thanks for your contribution.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 14 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      This is simply excellent! Your thoughts and ideas are so clear and inspiring. A brilliant work in educating people towards the development of healthy competition spirit among children imparting nice tips to parents. I admire this very much.Thanks a lot.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 14 months ago from United States

      Beautiful thoughts and well written, Dianna. I agree with them, however; this age n time is getting so competitive that the values 'we' are instilling in our children is all about 'win'. This definition of winning needs to change.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 14 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Yes to competition, for sure. My goodness, my childhood was centered around competition, and I didn't turn out too bad....oh, wait...maybe I'm not a good example. LOL

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 14 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Excellent and insightful hub that every parent should read!

      In today's scenario there is cut throat competition, whether it is in the field of education or jobs. It's important to inculcate the spirit of healthy competition among kids right from the beginning. But sadly even the parents become a party to it . Sometimes it can become very depressing for the children and they may take the extreme step in case of failures.

      Brilliant hub , well presented! Thanks!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 14 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Wow this was great. Love the game not the outcome! Here is a funny one just for thought. Do writers here on HP compete? My guess is that some do. I had a big brother close in age and school. He was a super duper athlete. Wow I loved to compete against him. Sure I almost always lost, but it made me so much better against my peers. And he was just awesome in encouraging me. If you lose that means you are playing someone better and that means you will get better.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 14 months ago from SW England

      Thanks. Hope your week's great too!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 14 months ago

      Flourish, your story is an example proving the real value of individual competition. Your daughter is so wise!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 14 months ago from USA

      Instilling a healthy sense of competition is important. I've told my teen daughter that life is a competition so just get used to it. To challenge herself she decided to self-study for the AP Psychology exam without having taken the class. She's 16. I bought her a college textbook and the materials she needed and she crammed for 2 1/2 -3 weeks (yep, weeks) and just found out she nailed a 4. She was mad because she didn't earn a 5. I'm blown away that the competitive edge can really take root and flourish when it needs to. She loved knowing that she did better than her friends who took a year of the class.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 14 months ago

      Whonu, good to see you today. I'll take those blessings and thank you! Be blessed on your journey.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 14 months ago

      Ann, thank you for your positive feedback. When parents lead by example children learn best the value of competition. May you have a great week.

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 14 months ago from United States

      Wonderful work my friend and many blessings to you and your charges at school. whonu

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 14 months ago from SW England

      Excellent hub, teaches! I agree totally with all you highlight here; if only the parents could get it, then so many more children would grow up with a healthy view and experience of competition. Such a good premise: 'staying in the moment'.

      I am sharing this and it should be pinned on every family's and every school's wall!

      Ann

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 14 months ago

      Good afternoon, Aaron. I will agree with you on the sibling analysis. I learned to handle losses well, it took awhile (many bumps and bruises) but I got there. Enjoy your Sunday, my friend.

    • Aaron Seitler profile image

      Aaron Seitler 14 months ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

      Interesting read...I am also of the school of thought that measured competition can be healthy. I'm 3 of 4 siblings and it seems that often those who have had to fight tooth and nail with their brothers and sisters for their "label" in the family or to step out a shadow become more motivated adults