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Interesting. I guess it is question of balance and knowing ones own child's limits and working and encouraging them. However, I am with you on the competativeness and achieving.

I have one friend who always wants to do something sporty with me (she is sporty and I am not). She was honest and said that if she does it with me she is happy as she knows she will win. She knows I won't be bothered and will be happy going at my own pace for myself. She is good at what she does and why she has to prove this I have no idea. Makes no diffs to me.

Actually an interesting read would be: Under Pressure


"What is Under Pressure about?

It shows how childhood has been hijacked by adults in a way never seen before in history and investigates how the natural instinct to want our children to have the best of everything and be the best at everything is backfiring on kids, parents and society as a whole. But the book is not all doom and gloom. On the contrary, it maps out how we can start rescuing childhood from the excesses of the early 21st century. By sifting through the latest scientific research and interviewing experts and families around the world, Under Pressure shows why parenting does not have to be a cross between a competitive sport and product development and why childhood does not have to be a rat race."

I commented on Mel's blog too. Each kid is just different and where one kid may blossom under one approach, another may really struggle. I think a parent's intent is most important. My parents never bothered with my schoolwork but it was not because they were chilled: they really didn't care. And I would really be shamed by them and they would have long, serious talks to me if I didn't get top marks. Yeah, they didn't do the parent thing so great. I would have done well with some extra push like Mel is doing to her kids, but I would have really suffered if the push was motivated by having to be the "winner" as opposed to just finding a sense of value and pride in myself. I would have LOVED growing up in your household but I may have been really REALLY laid back and lazy. Both would have been better than my childhood: unfocussed, undisciplined and really, really anxious about it. So, yes, it was crap, but my adulthood turned out pretty well, I learned to do the things I wasn't taught myself. So I think you are both really great parents. Whichever style you choose, it is done with love and sincere care. Your kids will survive and become adults and whatever you missed, they'll learn themselves. I mean, just growing up non-stressed and happy and in a house full of love is really, in my books, the only thing one has to get right. Really. The rest, kids will get themselves as they grow up.

And, to be really honest: I really don't like the win thing. Grant (hubby) just attended a squash schools tournament last weekend and came back after the finals talking about how a pair of parents had a very public and embarrassing fight at the matches. Geez, man. Your kids aren't asking for that, I promise you.

I never played a game as a child that I wasn't sure I could win. Turns out, I missed out on a lot of fun. I'm pretty convinced now that winning isn't everything.

I must say I'm _really_ not into that winning thing. I'm more a believer of doing-the-best-you-can so you will be able to say "I did everything I could", and then if some people are "better" ("different" in my vocabulary), so be it. We're friends with a couple who always make the kids compete, whether it's an impromptu -who-can-peel-the-mandarin-fastest contest or singing a song word-to-word or whatever. I absolutely HATE that. Might also be because my kid is a "slow developer" which makes me quite touchy. He's usually the last in everything.

I think teaching kids - by words or example - that it's most important to win (or to be first) is detrimental. How can that build self-esteem, when clearly they CANNOT be the "best" at everything!

At the same time, I think the "everybody's a winner" mentality has it's pitfalls. Life/society is simply not that way, and kids who are brought up thinking they "deserve" to win (even if not achieving first place), will be sorely disappointed when they get out into the real world. And I'm thinking it might create a sense of entitlement that's not helpful in a social setting, either.

Rather, I think parents should strive to encourage their children and help them to find their strengths. Teach them that everybody is different, and has different strengths... teach them to be good sports, regardless of the outcome (i.e. winning or losing). Teach them to have enough self-confidence to be able to handle NOT always being the winner, and the grace to celebrate the success of others.

It's a tough task, for sure. But I believe it's a healthy middle ground that will set a child up for a healthy self-image, and will help them function in normal society (and be well-liked!).

If you've ever watched a singing competition show (one of ours is American Idol) you see what happens to kids who've been taught that everyone's a winner. You have young adults who can't sing, have never been told such, and are devastated (and sometimes angry and disrespectful) when they don't progress past the first round.

I feel that competition is fun and natural. Me? I love to win but since I lose much more often than I win anything, I've learned to be ok with it. Which is the most important lesson of all.

I always thought/said that I was not competitive at all and then in my early 20's I realized that I actually hate to lose so much that I had avoided competition in most situations. It was a huge eye opener. I still much prefer to win but I have tried very hard to teach my kids about being a classy winner and not being a sore loser. But I also was not the type to always let my kids win every game when they were little because I think that is part of why I never learned that it was ok to lose sometimes and you have to learn to pick yourself up and go on.

You know, at first I thought you were talking about a different thing, where parents put super pressure on their kids to succeed at all costs, even when the kid can't do it, but after reading Mel's entry I understand, and frankly agree with her.

And I think the difference may be in the ages of her kids vs. yours, and in the fact that her son has ADD and learning issues, much like mine. Like, at your kids ages, it is important to talk about how everyone gets a turn to win at everything, at last until they mature a bit and find their place in the world where they can succeed without someone helping them. Someday Adam will find a talent or an area where he is amazing, someplace much different than Kate, and you will be in different place with that rule.

But when you have a kid with learning issues, having races and competitions and expectations (reasonable ones) can really help inspire them to try harder. And since the world doesn't ever really let them win when they get older, she has to make sure he does well in his studies and tries harder than others, just so he will do as well as everyone else.

Years ago, most of these kids just got written off and told to drop out and not bother, even if they could do other things, simply because no one wanted to try to help them. So, yes, being competitive can be a good thing.

As for the clever class, Tertia, I had to laugh. I never wanted my kid in a class like that until I realized that he was bored out of his mind in a regular one and going to start causing trouble left right and centre. And I can't help but imagine what would have happened to you if you had been in the clever class?

Good God, you might have invented the internet instead of Julie!

My eldest son, who had ADHD at school, did not respond well to typical competitive situations, as he did not have the emotional skills to deal with "losing". However I found that what motivated him was "earning" rewards for a job well done. He used to hate to read, so I bought him a 365-story bedtime book, and the deal was, if he read one story a day for a year, he would get a new bike. He got the bike, and now the habit of reading at bedtime is well ingrained too!

As an aside, my son was a classic underacheiver at school, and I NEVER pushed him, just encouraged him to do his best, and gave him loads of (sometimes undeserved) confidence in his abilities. Most of his teachers said he would never amount to anything - now he has just started his B Comm at Rhodes.

I think the key is to identify what motivation works for your kids - kind of like the "love languages" - and then apply this.

Wha ha ha ha ha ha, i was the only one to make it into the clever class and i was good at sports!

I am the winner!!

its no wonder i am mom and dads fav!

Ok that comment just cracked me up.

I see Mel got eleven comments and you only got ten, so I'm just equalling things out before she thinks, you know, she won or something...

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