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Dr David Coleman: Is a bit of competition good or bad for kids? The answer is actually all down to the parents

Helping children feel proud of their achievements when they win but also of their efforts when they lose is key to deriving benefit from competition

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We can teach kids that beyond the disappointment of losing, there is opportunity to continue to develop skills. (PHOTO: Picture posed)

We can teach kids that beyond the disappointment of losing, there is opportunity to continue to develop skills. (PHOTO: Picture posed)

We can teach kids that beyond the disappointment of losing, there is opportunity to continue to develop skills. (PHOTO: Picture posed)

Many people suggest that healthy competition is good for children. Proponents of early competitiveness believe that it will prepare children for the cut and thrust of life, which can be competitive. They claim that it teaches children to be resilient and to persevere, as well as helping them to deal with failure and disappointment. It can help children to move out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves and it can help children develop empathy.

Of course, any of these potential benefits will depend a lot on the nature of the competition and how a parent or mentor helps a child to reflect on and make sense of the outcome of the competition. Without any kind of reflection, it is equally possible that the competition might lead a child to experience crushing disappointment that they can’t deal with, and likely increase their negative appraisal of themselves. This in turn could have a lasting negative impact on their self-esteem.


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