Challenging Our Kids: How Important Is It To Let Them Win?
Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army Garrison
Well the big kids’ Sports Days last week sent me into a total tizz as usual. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before (going from my vast experience based purely on the sports days at my primary school 300 years ago). Every year I write to the school and beg them to change the running races. In fact I’m so dead set on that changing, I don’t bring up anything else in case it clouds the issue. The final running race is total carnage: 2-3 rows of children running down just 6 lanes and straight into a wall of doting parents with their iPhones poised, who are all standing ON THE ACTUAL FINISH LINE! This year, two kids got knocked down and one got trampled on.
‘Oh don’t worry,’ one teacher tells me, ‘there are no winners, they’re running for equality.’
What absolute rot.
Now the other issue I have with our school sports day is a total and complete lack of any attempt at challenging our kids. They have sporting activities, which are just far far too easy for them (the distance is painfully short), no-one’s keeping score and no-one’s making sure the kids do the activity properly.
Well, I got right up on my high horse and said to another Mum ‘can you believe it?!’ and she said ‘I know what you mean but I actually think there’s a good mix of stuff and rather than have the same sporty kids winning everything all the time, the other kids get to have fun too.’ So I had a think and thought yes she’s right – it IS all about having fun and joining in BUT I do think that kids need to FEEL stretched and challenged, whilst being given opportunities to succeed. If you’re presented with easy tasks and succeed at everything, then it can develop a false sense of your skills and abilities and set you up for feeling floored later on in life.
When I’m Empress, I’m going to design a sports day where each child takes part in a race, or sporting activity that’s right up their street. Then everyone can ‘compete’ fairly and squarely and be proud of themselves. I know I’m sounding all about the winning but I’m actually not – I’m all about the earning respect for yourself thing. If we’re not challenging our kids, then praise is meaningless isn’t it?
‘Oh look well done, you’ve run 10 metres, I’m so proud of you!’ Now, if it was our youngest son who had done that then yes we would be proud – he has special needs (Down Syndrome) and so for him to keep running to the end (even though he would probably be totally last) would mean something to us and to him. But to say it to our 6 year old and we’re just going to get an eye roll. He’s perfectly able to know whether he’s done something he’s proud of and has had to work to achieve the end goal and he’ll judge himself accordingly. It’s all relative isn’t it?
What we get out of completing or achieving something we found hard actually means something and that’s a wonderful feeling to have isn’t it? We should be challenging our kids, giving them achievable goals as well as having fun, so WHEN they succeed, they really feel it. What use is it to let your child win every time? That’s not life-proofing them is it?
I absolutely LOVE seeing the look on our kids’ faces when they know they’ve done well at something they’ve tried. Their little chests puff out and the smiles on their faces just make me so happy. I don’t actually care if what they’ve achieved isn’t of national interest or is very easy for someone else. It’s about THEM feeling they’re progressing.
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