Healthy Competition for Kids

April / 2019

Learn about what healthy competition means, what healthy and unhealthy competition looks like, and the benefits of healthy competition!

At Blocks Rock!, we believe that healthy competition is good for kids! That’s why we’ve created this introduction into healthy competition where we answer the following questions:

  • What does healthy competition really mean?

  • What does healthy competition look like?

  • What does unhealthy competition look like?

  • What are the benefits of healthy competition

What does healthy competition mean?

At some point over the past years, competition has gotten a tainted reputation. Now when some think about competition for kids, they might think about its negatives - like unnecessary stress and pressure to win, disappointment and weakened self-esteem from losing, and so on.

Because of these reasons, there is now a term for a better type of competition - healthy competition. Healthy competition promotes positive skills and life lessons in a safe atmosphere where kids can compete, collaborate, and learn.

What does healthy competition for kids look like?

Healthy competition starts by creating a safe, positive atmosphere and a good mindset about competition. Timothy Gunn, Psy.D., a pediatric neuropsychologist, said in an online Parent article, “it helps to define accomplishment not just as winning the activity, but as setting a goal for something they put their minds to and accomplish…. it's okay to lose as long as they are putting forth an effort and learning from the experience.”

You can tell that you’ve created a healthy competitive atmosphere when kids:

  • Are excited and energized by the experience

  • Feel improved self esteem

  • Have fun learning new skills

  • Want to better themselves in what they’ve learned

  • Can win and lose an activity with grace

  • Want to keep participating in the activity

If you’re focused on encouraging kids to learn through their failures, applauding all participants who try and work hard, and helping kids to do their best, you’ll be creating a healthy atmosphere.

But, here’s where competition can go wrong...

What does unhealthy competition for kids look like?

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service outlines some of the warning indicators of unhealthy and harmful competition. First, if there is too much emphasis on who is the best, it’s going to be an unhealthy competitive atmosphere.

As a Very Well Family article states, “if the only goal is to win and not learn anything in the process, kids are going to feel discouraged when they lose.”

Other signs of unhealthy competition are when competition:

  • Humiliates the loser and undermines self-confidence

  • Stresses winning at all costs

  • Lowers the needs to support or care for others

  • Causes hostility, aggression, or makes a child unpopular

  • Is done just for a caretaker’s benefit

  • Causes physical and/or emotional injury

Benefits of Healthy Competition

When you can create the right atmosphere and mindset for competition, there are many benefits, like:

  • Preparing kids for real-life situations

  • Developing important life and social skills, such as empathy

  • Learning from failure

  • Expanding a child’s comfort zone

  • Learning to work with others

  • Learning to develop problem-solving skills

  • Discovering how to set goals

  • Learning about their own abilities and limitations

  • Creating friendships and bonds with teammates, classmates, siblings, and friends

As you can see, there is a lot that can be learned from healthy competition!

Competitive Structured Block Play

Block Rocks! is competitive structured block play, and we’ve seen the benefits of healthy competition come to life before our eyes. From high-fives between competitors, to friends chanting each other’s names, and more, you’ll find that creating a healthy atmosphere for competition is easy when everyone is having fun!

Continue Reading About Healthy Competition

Check out the next article in our series on healthy competition, How to Encourage Healthy Competition in Kids.