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By Carmen McWaters

Is competition healthy for children?

Adults live in a very competitive society. Who will get the big promotion at work? Which class will raise the most money for a fundraiser to earn a pizza party at their child's school? Every day adults deal with some sort of competition, and for the most part it is harmless and people carry on their days without incident. However, competition for children has almost become a thing of the past. Sports teams that have younger children do not keep score for fear of hurt feelings. Everyone ends up with a trophy at the end of the season just for showing up. Parents or older siblings lose a game or a race on purpose to allow a small child to win. But is this actually helping children or hindering their preparation for the adult world? Below are some reasons why competition can be a healthy thing for children.

Coping. When things do not go the way a child would want, such as missing the game-winning kick in the soccer game, they have to deal with all the feelings that follow. Knowing how to handle these situations in a healthy manner is beneficial for the future.

Rules. Playing an organized sport or participating in something of that nature can show children that rules are in place for a reason. Problem-solving skills also come into play, as a child must find a way to overcome a certain obstacle with a set of rules in place.

Togetherness. Playing on a team with other peers who have a common goal can improve a child's social skills, which involve communication and working with others.

Self-esteem. When a child has won or at least played a great game, it will build their confidence. If they have a tough game or didn't play as well, they will then feel more inclined to work harder and practice a little extra. This will teach the child that hard work really does pay off and that they are capable of doing it.

Sportsmanship. It is important to teach children how to lose with grace. On the other hand, teaching a child how to be humble when he or she has won is also important. This prepares them for the many defeats and victories that they will face in life.

Parents always need to support their children no matter if it is a win or a loss. But they often find it hard to help a child who has experienced defeat. Some light encouragement is a wonderful way that parents can help their child without hindering or pressuring them. They can offer to help the child practice at home.

These are just a few of the ways a child can benefit from healthy competition. Children will have many opportunities to succeed and fail. They must understand that with hard work, cooperation, discipline and determination they will be rewarded.

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