For this second column about competition (click herefor the first), I’m going to do something I’ve never done. A whole article didn’t come together in my mind because all of these ideas were competing for my attention. So, why not just list them?Reflect. Decide what you agree with, what you’re not sure about, and what you want to think more about.

  • Today’s children may have a greater desire or need to win because they have a greater need to feel valued and worthy. It’s scary, though, because if feeling worthy is based on winning, they’ll have to keep winning. That’s not realistic. How valued and worthy do the children in your world feel? Do they depend on wining in order to feel good? How do you know?
  • “Win” is rooted in a word that means to fight, endure, struggle, and contend. Easy victories don’t mean as much as those we earn through effort and struggle. Children must have enough challenge in their academic work so they feel victorious when they do well. This feeling can help them persevere again and again.
  • To win, we must trust and follow the right people. How are we at identifying them? Helping children find and follow them?
  • Losing can cement an identity of victim, dumb, or good-for-nothing or compel people to work for new identities like victor, smarter, and becoming someone better. What makes the difference?
  • Competition television shows have trained children and teens to want and expect a judge to immediately score them and tell them how they did. They’re often not good at self-evaluation. How can we help them become more comfortable with accurate self-evaluation? Why is it important?

What observations about competition, winning, and losing have you made as you observe the culture? What do you want to be careful of or to address with your children? When? How? Now? Great!