In the context of parenting, competition refers to a situation where children strive to outperform each other, often driven by the desire for parental attention, recognition, or rewards. This can manifest in various areas, such as academics, sports, or creative pursuits. While a healthy level of competition can motivate children to excel, excessive competition can lead to stress, negative emotions, and damaged sibling relationships.

Key Takeaways

  1. Competition in parenting can refer to parents placing pressure on their children to outperform their peers or to meet excessively high expectations, which may result in undue stress and negative emotional consequences for the child.
  2. Healthy competition can encourage children to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork skills, while teaching them how to cope with the challenges of winning and losing. Striking a balance between supportive encouragement and overwhelming pressure is crucial.
  3. Dealing with competition among siblings calls for fairness and equal treatment to maintain harmony and avoid causing resentment or hostility, so that they develop strong emotional bonds and support each other throughout their lives.


The concept of competition is important in parenting because it plays a crucial role in a child’s personal and social development.

Introducing competition in a healthy manner helps children understand the value of goal-setting, perseverance, and fair play.

It motivates them to strive for excellence, learn how to cope with success and failure, foster teamwork, and develop problem-solving skills.

Additionally, experiencing competition from a young age prepares them for various competitive situations they’ll face later in life.

Finding a balance that helps children embrace competition while emphasizing the importance of enjoying the process and learning is key for nurturing a well-rounded and resilient individual.


Competition, in the context of parenting, is a concept that revolves around nurturing a sense of challenge and determination in children to help them develop essential life skills, such as problem-solving, collaboration, and adaptability. By instilling a healthy sense of competition, parents can motivate children to strive for improvement, attain personal goals, and build self-confidence in various areas of life.

Purposeful and positive competition helps children to learn the importance of perseverance, resilience, and the necessity of hard work to achieve desired outcomes, ultimately shaping them into well-rounded individuals. In contrast, unhealthily emphasizing competition can lead to undue stress and anxiety in children, causing them to become overly fixated on winning or being the best.

It is essential for parents, therefore, to promote a balanced perspective and focus on the learning process rather than just the end result. This balance can be achieved by encouraging children to reflect on their progress, participate in cooperative activities, and appreciate the value of setbacks as opportunities for growth.

Thus, cultivating a sense of competition, when approached in a supportive and balanced manner, can be a valuable tool for parents in aiding their children’s overall development and preparation for the challenges of adulthood.

Examples of Competition

Sports Participation: A common real-world example of competition in parenting can be observed when children participate in sports activities. Parents may compare their child’s performance to that of their peers, often pushing their child to excel and outperform others. This competitive environment can foster a sense of accomplishment but can also lead to stress and decreased self-esteem if the child feels inadequate.

Academic Achievement: Another area where competition is prominent in parenting is academics. Parents often strive for their child to achieve top grades, excel in standardized tests, and gain admission to prestigious schools. While this may encourage children to work hard and take their education seriously, it can also produce unhealthy levels of stress and an overemphasis on academic success at the expense of other aspects of a child’s life.

Extracurricular Activities: Parents can also engage in competition when it comes to their children’s involvement in extracurricular activities such as music, dance, or art classes. Children may be encouraged to participate in multiple activities in order to outshine their peers or to have a competitive edge in college admissions. While this can cultivate talent and allow children to explore their interests, it can also lead to overscheduling and burnout.

FAQ – Competition

1. What age is appropriate for children to start participating in competitive activities?

Children can begin participating in competitive activities as early as they are able to grasp the rules and objectives of the activity. However, it is generally recommended to begin around ages 4-6, depending on the child’s interests, abilities, and maturity level. At this age, the focus should be on fun, skill development, and teamwork, rather than winning or losing.

2. How can I encourage healthy competition in my child?

To foster healthy competition, emphasize the importance of trying their best, learning from failures, and improving their skills over time. Encourage your child to set personal goals and focus on self-improvement. Help them understand that losing is a natural aspect of competition and should be used as an opportunity to learn and grow. Finally, teach the importance of good sportsmanship, respect for opponents, and how to win and lose gracefully.

3. What are the potential negative impacts of competition on my child?

If not managed properly, competition can lead to excessive stress, anxiety, and a loss of self-esteem. It may also result in a decreased interest in the activity itself, as well as a reluctance to try new things for fear of failure. Additionally, overemphasis on winning can create undesired behaviors like poor sportsmanship, cheating, and aggressive behavior.

4. How can I handle a child who is overly competitive?

If your child is overly competitive, it’s essential to address their behavior and help them understand the value of other aspects like teamwork, personal growth, and enjoying the activity itself. Talk to your child about why they feel the need to win and help them understand that it’s not the only measure of success. Encourage them to focus on improving their skills and celebrating their own accomplishments, even if it’s not always about winning.

5. Should I reward my child even when they don’t win a competition?

Yes, rewarding your child for their effort and participation can build their self-esteem and help them develop a healthy attitude towards competition. Acknowledge the hard work they put into preparing for the event and emphasize the skills they improved upon, rather than focusing solely on winning or losing. Remember, the goal is to instill a love for the activity and help them learn valuable life skills through participation in competitive events.

Related Parenting Terms

  • Rivalry
  • Cooperation
  • Winning mindset
  • Healthy competition
  • Comparison

Sources for More Information

  • Psychology Today – A popular magazine featuring articles on psychology, mental health, and parenting.
  • Parenting Science – A resource that presents in-depth articles on evidence-based parenting strategies and child development research.
  • Healthy Children – The official parenting website of the American Academy of Pediatrics, providing a range of resources on childcare and parenting techniques.
  • Common Sense Media – A platform offering expert advice on media and technology, with a focus on helping families navigate the digital age.