The balancing act

The balancing act

The balancing act

Is a certain degree of competition good for children?

Parents feel it’s important to focus on a child’s strengths rather than weaknesses. (for illustration purpose only)Given the number of student suicides that take place every year due to the sheer inability to cope with the system, it’s no wonder that counsellors and teachers are stressing the need for a pressure-free environment for students.

This is especially the case with children in their primary years at school, since they’re often not equipped enough to handle the cut-throat competition that’s associated with monthly tests and the like.

On the other hand, the fact remains that a certain degree of healthy competition is important for a child’s development, since it gives them that extra push that’s needed to do a little better.

Metrolife speaks to a few parents and a psychologist to find out how to strike a balance when it comes to competition.

Jigna, who has a four-year-old daughter, says that she’s always made a conscious effort to prevent her daughter from feeling any mental pressure when it comes to performing — especially in comparison to other children her age. 

“Whenever she feels that she isn’t doing as well as she could, I reason with her, and tell her not to worry and to simply try her best. It’s important for me to make sure she never feels negative about things,” explains Jigna.

However, she also maintains that she focuses on the fields in which her daughter really is good, and pushes her to do well in these.

“If one of her friends does well in sports, I tell her not to worry. Her strengths are in studies and in painting, and this is what I focus on,” she adds.

Sujendra Prakash, a consultant psychologist, maintains that competition itself is an integral part of the education of young children — however, it shouldn’t be taken in the wrong sense.

“These days, the term ‘competition’ is misinterpreted. Competition should be healthy, but now, it’s turned into a sense of rivalry,” he explains.

He himself has worked extensively with children, and mentions some of the traits he has noticed.

“When I ask them to perform some activities, the children want to make sure that they win at any cost. Competition is supposed to encourage capability, but not produce this kind of effect,” he says.

Beena Pillai, a mother of two, believes that there are certain areas in which a competitive spirit is important, but academics definitely isn’t one of them. 

She says, “I’ve seen a lot of competition between children in schools these days. A lot of this is because of the academic-oriented education systems we have here. But this kind of competition isn’t healthy.”

She believes that defining ‘healthy’ competition is the key to striking a balance.
“We should emphasise competition in areas which involve creativity, innovation and intellectual thinking. Compared to foreign countries, there isn’t much importance given to creativity here. In these fields, some competition will help a child come up with new ideas and do better,” she concludes.

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