Have you ever gotten discouraged before? It’s most likely that you have, and a lot of the time, that discouragement probably came from competition. Whether you know it or not, competition is a daily part of our life and can impact it in a good way, but also in a largely negative way. Competition can affect children more strongly, and as with adults, either in a positive way or in a more often bad way. The use of competition amongst children should be abandoned as it can break apart friendships, discourage the children that can’t obtain success, and distract children from learning.
To start off, children can become so focused on winning that they cannot and do not notice what they are losing, which includes close friendships. For instance, group competition can divide friends and allow school tasks to drive a rift into personal life by leaving children unable to distinguish their work-relationships from their personal-relationships. Likewise, individual competition is no different, other than more pressure driven onto each individual to do better. Additionally, children who get a lower status in marks can feel inferior to friends that get higher marks than them, further damaging the friendship even more.
Furthermore, children that don’t get decent marks can feel discouraged and left behind.
Students that don’t live up to the standards set(either by themselves, parents, or/and their peers) may feel that success is not within reach, and therefore they should stop trying to get good marks and just give up. When they hear of the ones that do get high results, their perception of acceptable marks can become limited to only high marks because they feel that everyone around them is reaching those milestones, which damages their drive even more.
Lastly, competition can make youth work hard, but that hard work does not always result in learning anything. Competition gives children a reason for hard work, and when they work hard towards the right thing, the results are usually good, but that is too often not the case. The right thing to be focused on is growth and learning tons of new stuff, but the wrong thing is trying to just come up with a wonderful result. In some cases, students are blinded by the latter and lose focus on the main purpose of competition altogether, which can result in something with fewer ideas and less growth. In other cases, some will designate the learning as unimportant, and will only try to make their work more ‘wonderful’.
All in all, competition amongst children hurts more than it helps; it can tear apart strong bonds, dissuade unsuccessful youth, and cause children to lose sight of the real purpose of competition altogether. Competition is supposed to be beneficial to children, but is it really?
Rather than letting students go through the pressure and burden competition brings, let them work on their own or collaborate with more ease, and incorporate less competition in each assignment. After all, in the end, it’s up to the student whether they want to work hard towards the right thing or not.