Posts Tagged ‘teaching kids’

Even though I don’t have children, I find that I always want my nephews and nieces to be ‘the best’.  Even the other mothers I hang out with want their kids to be the best…best at school, best athletic, best artist, best musician, first to learn the widest vocabulary, first to read…whatever it may be.  But how healthy is it to have this attitude and what makes kids this way – and eventually evolve into competitive parents and adults?

It seems like competitiveness really sets in at around 5-years-old or so – my nephew Otto is just getting to that age where he is in Kindergarten and bonding with classmates.

I personally feel like in our society today, kids compete with one another for selective schools, sports teams, after-school activities and more.  I often see with parents I know that they feel that discouraging competition will put their child at a disadvantage.  We tend to send our kids mixed messages where we want them to have fun and be carefree about being the “best”, but also want them to have what it takes to be successful. Because of this, I often think about how competitive should your child be at certain ages? What is appropriate?

Competition isn’t inherently good or bad, but it can have positive and negative consequences. In my opinion, competitiveness can be a good thing, as long as you help your kids compete in a healthy way.

The competitive spirit among kids my nephew’s age is related to their increasing sense of know-how, where the kids gauge by comparing themselves with their friends.

I hear friends discussing how their daughter can tie her shoes or ride a bike and we praise a child for learning something new…but when they get to school they want to be the “best” compared to their friends or other kids in the classroom.

According to veteran teacher Vivian Gussin Playe, author of You Can’t Say You Can’t Play (Harvard University Press), “When there’s a classroom birthday party, for example, kids are miserable if they’re left without a seat during a game of musical chairs.” I think its important in times like these to emphasize taking turns, learning, effort and how fun an activity can be instead.

Of course, some kids are more competitive than others. To a certain extent, this is a matter of personality, but boys tend to be more competitive than girls. I find that siblings are often very competitive with one another because the younger sibling “can’t keep up” with the older sibling – sound familiar? Some kids also feel the need to excel in order to win love and attention from their parents.

It’s perfectly normal for your child to make casual comparisons between theirself and their friends. Help your child become more aware of how bragging can hurt other kids’ feelings. It’s also important to be a good role model. Listen to yourself when you talk about your accomplishments, and pay attention to whether you tend to compare yourself with others.  Seeing is believing and your child will learn a healthy level of competitiveness.

Here are Steps on How to Handle Competitiveness in a Fair Way: 

  • Emphasize personal best
  • Buy thoughtfully – Many kids ask for the newest gadgets or toys – make sure it’s not just a present to ‘one-up’ their friends…rather buy it for a good reason such as a holiday or birthday.
  • Talk about role models. – Point out child heroes who help others
  • Ask the right questions. Don’t ask about winning. Ask what your child is learning at school, not how she did on tests; ask how he felt about the game, not who won; ask whether the party was fun, not who was there and what they wore.
  • Refuse to keep score – For example, if you say you are jealous of your brother’s new car, you will teach your kids to judge others by what they have.  Or cheer for your kids during games or sports despite if the team is winning or losing.

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bandaidReading Dawn’s post about her school field trip mishap made me think about my teaching days. When I used to be an elementary school teacher, I went through boxes of Band-Aids. And I do mean BOXES! Not because my students were injured all the time, but because they felt that for every little “boo-boo,” a Band-Aid somehow made it all better. Now by “boo-boo” I’m talking about:

  • a little scratch
  • an insect bite
  • an old bump
  • a bruise
  • a scar
  • sometimes, a student would even go as far as picking an old scab just to get it bleeding for a Band-Aid!

Now that my oldest is school-aged, a fascination for Band-Aids has developed. And I was never one to pass out Band-Aids at home so I’m quite intrigued where this Band-Aid interest came from. Could it be because of these bandages now look like fancy stickers? There is quite a range of different characters to choose from—Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer, Spider Man, Scooby-Doo. Who wouldn’t want to sport one these cool bandages? Because nothing says, “I’m injured but still stylin'” like a Barbie-wrapped finger!

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It’s hard to say "no" to this face!

It’s hard to say "no" to this face!

I have a 28 month old. I don’t want to call it the terrible twos  because she’s just being independent…right? I love that she has a will of  her own, but boy, is it ever a challenge to get through everything these days! In the morning, it’s a struggle to pick clothes that are  acceptable to both of us. Throughout the day, it’s a (not fun) game trying to get her to pick up her toys.

The other night, I asked her to pick up all her magnetic letters and either put them on the fridge or in the old coffee can. She refused. I then asked her to help me do it. She just sat there and watched me. OK, I know I can’t do it for her because that is just setting myself up for the next 15-20 years of continuing to “do” for her. I decided this was a battle I was going to win and was prepared to do whatever it took to make it happen. Now I had to get tough and tell, not ask, her to do it. She still refused. I wrapped my hand around hers and helped her to pick up each letter and then released her hand making her drop it, but all that did was entertain her. She just thought it was funny. Finally I told her if she didn’t cooperate she had to go to bed. She still refused so I hauled her to the bedroom. She cried and said, “No, no”. When I asked if she would pick up her letters she said she would. I brought her back to the kitchen. When I sat her down she again refused. After going back and forth a couple of times with longer periods of time in the bedroom she finally gave in and picked everything up.

I know this process was significantly more painful for me than for her, but at least I won this round. She’s been a bit better about it this week. Next week, I’m sure there will be a whole new battle. I’d love to find out if anyone has a fun ways to teach kids to pick up after themselves.

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