by Anna Katzman, from Robotic Parenting
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Winners train, losers complain…
Off the field, we’re friends; on the field, we’re warriors...
Encouraging mantras for competition. Encouraging because competition is a good thing. And it’s good for our kids.
Or is it?
There are, (it’s no surprise), competing views…
Competition is, simply good: It’s natural (as did our biological ancestors, we still compete for survival in some cases, say, for example, survival of a business); it’s what our country was founded upon; Competition can promote creativity, provide a child with a goal; it can teach children how to lose and lose graciously; it’s fun; it can be rewarding; it can help kids stand out as individuals...
Yet it may not be so simple:
A 2010 study of competitiveness among adolescents, by Hibbard and Buhrmester, concluded that competition can impact children’s psychological well-being and social functioning in either a positive or a negative way, depending on the type of competition and upon a child’s gender.
Competing to win (i.e. to dominate and outperform others) was found to be detrimental to girls’ social relationships -- leading to fewer and less-close friendships -- and was linked to higher levels of depression (this was much less the case for boys) and to higher levels of loneliness.
Competing to excel (i.e. to perform well and surpass personal goals) was found to contribute to the well-being of both genders. It was linked to higher self-esteem and less depression for both genders, but was largely unrelated to social functioning.
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Competition is harmful: Mr. Alfie Kohn, author of 12 books about human behavior, including No Contest: The Case Against Competition, claims: The “very phrase ‘healthy competition’ is actually a contradiction in terms... Some things are inherently destructive. Competition, which simply means that one person can succeed only if others fail, is one of those things.”
Kohn claims competition: