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Question
Posted by: worried mother | 2003/03/18

influence of competion on primary school children

My daughter attends a Afrikaans medium primary school. The school puts a lot of emphasis on achievements. My daughter sets high standards for herself and is always comparing her results with classmates. Is competition a good thing for primary school children? How should I encourage her to keep up the good work but not compare herself to others as this seems to be her reference.
Thank you.

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Our expert says:
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WM, in an ideal world it would be nice to not have to measure one’s performance by comparing it to how others do. Unfortunately, if you don’t perform better than others, you won’t be rewarded better than them. Teaching your child not to compete with anyone may potentially be just as dangerous as telling them that competition is the beginning and end of it all. You might end up with an under-achiever that doesn’t want to work to get anywhere in life. To me being lazy is just a big a sin as stealing, but I suppose you want a medical opinion and not my personal views on the subject.
You can tell your child that she doesn’t have to win at all costs, but if she wants to compete, you should leave her to do so. If it doesn’t affect her mood and she is happy, let her compete as much as she likes – it can only improve her chances at success. If you see that she becomes unhappy when she doesn’t win, you will have to help her to channel her energy into an area where she can win.
Support her as much as you can and make sure that she has no doubt that you love her no matter how she performs. Good luck.

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