July 15, 2024

Competition and Children: Healthy or Harmful? By Tanya Memme

Competition amongst our children: Is it healthy?

Recently I attended my cousins hockey game. My little cousin is 8 years old and safe to say one of the strongest players on his team. At one of his most recent hockey practices while the coach was doing skating drills, his mom noticed something. The child that came in last for that drill was made to do a round of push ups. It was very upsetting to hear this, because I knew that if my little cousin only gave even 50% effort, he will still probably finish within the top few skaters.  My question here is, are we praising results or effort? What message are we giving to our kids? I mean, maybe the slowest skater on the team was trying his absolute best but just couldn’t keep up with the rest? Making him do push ups is the quickest way for him to feel like a failure, unsuccessful, weak, and eventually give up. Why not make the kids who don’t try their best (the coach is familiar enough with each child) do a few push ups?

Upon seeing this, I started to have flashbacks from when I was in grade school. St. Elizabeth Elementary school from JK – Grade 8.  I wasn’t one of the “smartest” kids in the class and was made to feel stupid because of it. I always tried as hard as I could to get a good grade. Sometimes I did and sometimes I didn’t. I was a B/C student which was average I guess. I tried extremely hard, I studied the best I could, and was never noticed for my effort? I remember having to write out misspelled words on the chalkboard in front of the class for hours (or so it seemed.) I used to dream of getting an A in English or Geography or Math but I just wasn’t capable under the schools given teaching techniques. Then the infamous “Awards Day” would come along at the end of every year! This is where the entire school would gather in the gym to watch the same kids every year go up on stage and receive an award for being the BEST in each subject. This was always one of the days I loathed most. I felt so much “less than” every awards day because I knew my name would never be called.

As the years went by, I started to feel utterly defeated and eventually submerged myself into my dance training after school. I WAS GOOD AT DANCE AND WAS REWARDED FOR MY GOOD RESULTS! In the meantime I built up such a big block in my mind about school that I started blanking out on tests and exams in high school and eventually college. Realistically I was fully capable of passing with a good grade, but I had become conditioned to believe I was stupid and not “smart enough” to pass the test. I believed I was a failure in the past because I never “WON” an award on Awards Day and the subconscious pressure I put on myself was insane! It took me years to work through.

Since then and a solid resume of hosting many shows etc, I’ve replaced the panic with confidence and have learned to deal with it and control it. It’s just too bad it has taken so long to get to a good, solid confident place with it, but none the less still a part of who I am.

When I heard about that little boy trying his best and still made to do push ups in front of his hockey team, I Instantly realized that that little boy was ME years ago. Do we praise RESULTS or EFFORT? Not every kid is great at Math, but if they are praised for how hard they work at it, then eventually and surely they will figure out the equation with great success and enjoy the process instead of quitting.  Success comes with determination and effort. Acknowledging the little ones for these qualities and encouraging them along the way is critical. It affects everything they do and eventually WHO THEY BECOME.

Tanya Memme is the Producer/Co-Host of the Emmy nominated, A&E’s Sell This House and Sell This House Extreme.  She is a new mom, pet lover, travel enthusiastic & lifestyle expert. www.TanyaMemme.com

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