Monday, November 19, 2012

The Best

This weekend my husband and I ran a half marathon. We said before the race that we just wanted to finish, we didn't want to get hurt, blah blah blah. C'mon, let's be serious. We wanted a PR. We wanted to run it faster than we had run any other half marathon before. We can pretend all we want that we're "just happy to finish," but he and I know deep down that we wanted to run well and beat our previous times.

We are competitive people. It's just how we are made up. And truthfully, it's something I hope that my kids inherited from us ... the desire to be the best at whatever it is you are doing. But, as we were running on Saturday (you have a lot of time to think over 13 miles), I started to really wonder about how much we should emphasize competitiveness.

Here's the deal: I want my kids to WANT to be the best at everything they try to do. Is that asking too much or pushing them further than I should? It doesn't matter that they ARE the best, just that they are trying their best to succeed. Does that make sense? I know that they will not always be the best at everything they do and, truthfully, their still developing egos don't need the kind of constant encouragement one gets from winning everything. Everyone needs to lose sometimes. But I do want to instill in them the desire to try to be the best at everything they do. Competition is real and it is out there. There are no trophies for participation when it comes to getting into college or finding a job.

I know that this is such a slippery slope when dealing with kids. The trick is trying to instill enough confidence in them that they believe in themselves and give maximum effort all the time. But, at the same time, I don't want to over-emphasize "winning" so much that they are hesitant to try things that they don't believe they will be good at doing. It's a hard line to walk between self-confidence and that fear of failure.

I would love to know what other parents think about this and what types of lessons you think are important for instilling in your children. Do you emphasize being the best? Or is winning not important at all to you as long as you are trying your best? What do you do if you have a child who won't try anything he knows he won't excel at? What do you do about competition between siblings? We all know it is there throughout their lives, so do you downplay it or let it run its course?

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