A Competitive Life
By Claire K.
The human race has a deep desire to win and succeed. This deep desire created our need for competition. John Tauer, a psychology professor at the University of St. Thomas, recently wrote in the New York Times that his son is competitive at everything, even when it comes down to beating his brother at brushing his teeth. But Tauer made a very relevant point, is this competitive outlook creating a toxic environment and lifestyle?
It’s known that president Barrack Obama and politicians are very competitive people. President Obama said in an interview once, “When you all have kids, it’s important to let them win,” President Obama said, then he continued, “Until they’re a year old.”
Is President Obama right? Should parents teach their children tough life lessons that they’ll have to learn sooner or later in life, or should they just hand out everyone a constellation prize for 57th place? Should parents teach their children that there are winners and loser, and that they aren’t always going to be a winner? This is the question I’m asking.
Alfie Kohn, an author and speaker who opposes competitiveness said once that, “The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that competition is destructive, particularly, but not exclusively, for children, “It’s a toxic way to raise children.” Kohn later added that, “The absence of competition seems to be a prerequisite for excellence in most endeavors, contrary to received wisdom.”
Kohn is not the first person to express the belief that competiveness is a toxic way for parents to raise children, but what happens when a child who wants to win an Olympic medal in swimming can’t swim? Who is going to prepare them for the harsh reality called life?
Studies have shown that competitiveness promotes happiness and performance. Scholars have proved that people are better off when they are trying to succeed in life. This competitive outlook makes people more confident and tolerant to things that are going on around them. Without competition the human race would not evolve. Scholars who have researched the negativity of competition have found that some competitive people struggle with anxiety and self-esteem.
So what are parents with competitive children to do? According to the organization True Competition it is important to “reclaim competition for excellence, ethics and enjoyment.” What this means is to let people know that it’s okay to be competitive, but don’t let this competitive lifestyle overtake you and ruin you.
Often in competition people forget what they are there for in the first place, to do something that they love. What True Competition is trying to do is bring back the fun and healthy enjoyment that is competing.
When it all comes down to it, it is up to you on where you stand in the competition debate. Do you think we should be raised in a fragile tea cup environment, a competitive playing field that causes anxiety and anger, or a medium between the two?