Staying In The Moment: Competition
Getting Ready to Compete . . .
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
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
How Competitive Are You?
When asked to compete I generally:
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!)
- Ice Hockey
- American Football
- Poets, Lyricists and Creative Writers
- Athletes and Sports Competitors
- Sales Agents, Securities and Commodities
- Sound Engineering Technicians
Source: Business Insider; Top End Sports.com
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.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
© 2016 Dianna Mendez