How Toxic Competition Is Ruining Our Kids

Excessive stress and achievement pressure plague children.

According to koodakpress، Competition can be very healthy for kids. It motivates them. It keeps them focused on a goal. It teaches them how to win and lose, the value of teamwork, and perseverance. Whether kids engage in competitive sports or academic contests or compete in other ways, they learn to push themselves and work through obstacles to complete the task at hand. All of this results in resilience, new skills and passion.

When competition turns toxic, however, kids suffer. I was running an assembly on empathy and compassion for upper elementary school students when a question from a fifth-grade girl gave me pause. “What do you do when your grownups are always yelling at you from the sideline and telling you what you’re doing wrong and what you should be doing to do better?” she asked. The room fell silent as one hundred sets of eyes stared at me, waiting for my response. I asked if other kids experienced the same thing. Hands went up as they nodded in agreement. “Parents are terrible at losing,” remarked one boy.

Kids today face toxic levels of competition. Overzealous corrections from the sidelines are one thing, but kids tell me that their parents pressure them to succeed at school, in social settings, on the playing field, in extracurricular activities and just about everywhere they go. The push to achieve is intense, and our kids are crumbling under the pressure.

One study found that nearly half (49 percent) of students surveyed reported feeling a great deal of stress on a daily basis, and 31 percent reported feeling somewhat stressed. Given that high stress levels are associated with impaired behavioral, emotional and academic development and numerous health consequences, it’s important to step back and understand how toxic competition affects our kids on a daily basis and what we can do to counteract these issues.

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