Is it Okay to Encourage Competition Between Children?


One of the main features of nurturing and bringing up children in South Asia is the comparisons we draw between them. It’s almost second nature to do so. Hearing things like “Look at Jameela’s daughter, she got an A” is more than common. This stretches to the classroom and children are constantly pushed into competitions with one another, especially when it comes down to academic rankings. If children don’t come first in class, they’re often handed disappointment from parents, teachers, and other family members. How healthy is this? And where do we draw the line?

There are, of course, healthy competitions between children. Friendly competitiveness can help children have a good time, and push themselves to grow with their peers. But it’s important to ensure that it stays friendly and animosity isn’t allowed to breed in such situations.

It’s greatly how adults present this competition that the determines whether the situation will get hostile and/or upsetting for the child.

There’s a fine line between friendly competition and toxic competitive behavior.

When introducing children to compete, it’s important to do the following:


  • Keep it light-hearted and friendly
  • Focus on growth and fun
  • Refrain from tearing one child down to praise another
  • Praise and encourage everyone involved
  • Avoid disapproval for someone who isnt doing as well as others
  • Ensure everyone knows the competition and winning are not serious or very important. What matters is that everyone try their best

This will ensure that children have fun and grow.

Creating unhealthy and serious competition in children can cause their mental health to deteriorate, cause self-esteem issues, and cause them to act out or become depressed. This can also lead to issues later in life.

Defeating others should never be taught as the goal. The endgame should always be growth through trying one’s best.

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