We should let children enjoy their childhood as these carefree days will never come back again. As a child I always wanted to grow up soon. But now I feel it was a such an enjoyable time and I should have just made more of every moment. I cherish every moment of my childhood today much more and I am revisiting my childhood again with my daughter.

As a child I gave up on many things mid-way. I went to learn swimming and gave up on it, even went on to learn Bharat Natyam and gave up on it. After growing up I felt I should have put in some more effort. Anyways you can’t bring back lost time but it’s ‘Better late than Never’. So, on my daughter’s instance who is a swimmer, I learnt to swim few months back. I am reliving my childhood. I am also learning Kathak. Maybe I am nearing my 40’s but I am happy that there is still a child within me and I want to keep that child happy always.

Today as we celebrate Children’s Day I pledge to give my child a wonderful carefree childhood. But the world around us is changing very fast. I wonder if we will be able to provide our children a carefree childhood like we had.

There is so much insecurity and competition. As parents we want to give the best to our children and prepare them to take on all the challenges head on. But are we equipped? How do we deal with the pressures of the society around us?

Just recently someone asked me, ‘’Did you daughter get a medal in the competition she participated in?’’ It makes me ponder. Is it only about winning medals? Is it why we parent choose to encourage our children to pursue a sport?

That was certainly not my criteria for enrolling my child in the sport. It was my way to teach her the importance of self-discipline from an early age. I wanted to make her tough to face the life challenges. I wanted her to become a person who is a quick decision maker. I wanted her to learn from an early age that she is going to fail numerous times in her life but that is not the end. To get up after one fails is a true winner. To keep pursuing your passions is the true significance of being victorious and meritorious.

But certainly, when I see around me when my daughter participates in various competitions that there is a pressure that these young kids go through. So, are competitions good or bad?

I feel it is about how much do we stress on winning during competitions is what matters more. As parents, we need to consciously understand the objective of sports in your child’s life. And that shouldn’t always be about winning but also about losing with grace. The child should know that he competes with himself and aims to improve his performance each time. He himself needs to keep score of his performance and measure his own progress.

Having said that, I believe that if there is a place for competition in the lives of kids, it can teach them many life lessons.

Here I list 10 reasons why experiencing competition is good for kids:

  1. Competition helps to learn to win and lose with grace:Competition gives a child the chance to win. But it also gives opportunities to face disappointment as it is practically not possible to win every time and to learn to process them in healthy ways.
  2. Builds self – esteem and confidence: Sports are a great way to build self -esteem in children. While participating in competitions and tasting success can always raise confidence, but also participating in competitions gives a sense of pride in children which helps build self -esteem.

Also read my post on:15 Ways To Build Self-Esteem In Children

  1. Improves academic performance: Since sport helps in increasing concentration it helps in improving academic performance too. My daughter’s Grade 1 teacher suggested to me that I should enroll my daughter in any sport as she needs to concentrate more. It’s now more than 2 years since she is into competitive swimming and I have seen a marked difference in her level of concentration and her academic performance has improved too.
  2. Helps build social skills: When a child is involved in sports and participates in competition his interaction with other children from outside the school and with adults increases. This helps in building social skills.
  3. Learns to deal with set- backs: Participating in competition and dealing with failures, help the child to deal with set- backs. In adult life this will empower the child to cope with challenges in a better manner without being stressed. This helps in becoming emotionally and mentally strong too.
  4. Learns to manage conflicts: Conflicts are a part of any competition. More so if the child is part of a team sport. There are so many players who are friends off field but get into conflict on the field while playing. This shows that they can manage conflicts well.
  5. Learns to follow rules: You will never need to force the child to follow rules if he is learning a sport. It’s very natural to follow rules while participating in sport competitions and this important skill can be easily imbibed in a child quite easily.
  6. Self- discipline: Discipline should not be forced. Competitive sports teach the valuable skill of self-discipline. A sports person understands that to win he will have to be disciplined and focused. There is no alternative to hard work and discipline if one wants to succeed.
  7. Gets opportunity to travel: Being into competitive sports gives a child an opportunity to travel nationally and internationally also. This helps in giving the child immense exposure and it is a huge learning experience to cherish for life. It gives one a chance to learn about new places and adjust to various circumstances.
  8. Sense of identity: My daughter is always very keen to earn the school sports team T-shirt with her name inscribed on it. It gives her a sense of identity and is a matter of great pride for her that she is representing her school.

Many of the benefits that I have listed can be achieved by other means such as arts or non-competitive sports too. But from my personal experience as a parent of a child in competitive sports I can ensure that it has helped in character building and my daughter has many happy memories to cherish from the competitions that she has participated.

But as a parent I would also like to mention that greater focus should be on the process and the skills that the kids learn in the process and not on the result.

When I enrolled my daughter in competitive coaching I was not sure of the result. In the process I got confused too on how much importance should I give to competitive coaching as time and again the coach used to point out that she isn’t focused.

However now at the completion of two years I write this post, as all my doubts are cleared, and I would like to share my experience with you.

Are your children in competitive coaching of any sport? Do you feel there is a difference in the skills that a child develops by being into individual or a team sport? Do share your stories.

Here’s wishing you all a very Happy Children’s Day!

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