As a nanny this summer, it was pretty easy to entertain the children I was watching over with games, movies, and outdoor activities. With all the hustle and bustle of playtime, it was hard for me to get them to sit down and read, which was a mandatory task to be completed most days. Even though they would only have to read 20-30 minutes, they would constantly complain and try to beg their way out of it. I finally decided one day that I was tired of listening to the kids complain, so I came up with a solution: a reading competition. This competition started at the beginning of August and will go to the end of the school year, and whoever reads the most books and the most pages by the end of the competition will win a prize. Although this is a very simple competition and I did not even say what the prize was going to be, the kids all of the sudden did not want to put their books down. This got me thinking about how beneficial competition is and the positive outcomes that it produces.

Competition drives children to be the best that they can be.

When children are presented with competition, they begin to focus on winning instead of the task they are actually doing. Although they are still doing the task and improving at it while doing so, their intention of the action is not to practice and get better, but instead to win. In the case of my nanny children reading, the kids are not even thinking about how the reading is benefitting them, they are just thinking about winning. Because they now have an incentive to read, they do not want to stop until they win. The competition that was implemented into their everyday task has now resulted in their improved reading skills and a genuine desire to read. Now, they refuse to put their books down instead of complaining when they have to read.

It teaches kids how to lose.

Competition is something that continues to occur throughout all of the different stages of life, so it is important that children are taught at a young age how to handle the defeat that inevitably will eventually come. Kids should be taught that everyone loses sometimes so they do not resort to anger and aggressiveness when things do not go their way. If they learn from a young age to motivate themselves from defeat and to learn from their losses, they will be better prepared for the future as they will continue to improve themselves and their skills after they get knocked down instead of giving up or developing a negative attitude. After all, nobody likes a sore loser!

It also teaches them how to win.

Just as sore losers are hard to deal with, cocky winners may be worse. When children are presented with competition as they grow up, they find their talents and strengths that they will continue to pursue as they get older. When they discover these talents, it is very easy for them to over-celebrate and brag about how much better they are than other people. We can all think of someone who did this growing up, whether it be ourselves, a sibling, or a friend, and remember how annoying and degrading it was. Competition teaches kids that they are encouraged to celebrate their successes, but there comes a time when being humble is the best way to respond to them.

Competition gives companies incentive to improve.

Teaching kids about competition at a young age will not only teach them how to win and lose gracefully, but it will also teach them that they can create their own success out of how much work they are willing to put in. This applies not only to individuals, but also for American companies. Putting companies head to head to compete for customers creates a consumer’s market where the company with the best services and the lowest prices gets the most customers. Creating incentive to improve the quality of service that consumers are receiving results in the best products and the best prices to survive, and companies that are not motivated by the incentive to receive more customers will eventually go out of business.

Competition is important in every stage of life, from teaching children lifelong lessons to making sure Americans are receiving high quality products and services. Instead of turning our backs to competition in fear of hurting people’s feelings, we should embrace the opportunities and lessons that competition can teach everyone.

Karly H