How to nourish your childs competitive spirit and confidence

The will to succeed, to survive and the confidence boost of winning are all products of our competitive spirit. Ever wonder why winning feels wonderful and losing terrible? Children learn the glory that winning can bring early on in the playground and in the classroom. In this article I hope to show you ways to nurture your Child's competitive spirit.

Here’s a horrible quote to give you chills:
Low self-esteem is one of the surest predictors of a poor competitor, and many psychologists believe poor parenting is the surest indicator that a child will have low esteem.

BusinessWeek - Selfish Genes And Mellow Monkeys.Food and sex are what drive all animals, including humans, to compete. Even a retiree-turned-couch-potato can't lose the impulse. AUGUST 21, 2006.

It’s all down to human instincts as we evolved over hundreds of generations competing for survival in harsh climates in our distant past. Now that competitive spirit is in us all and we establish ourselves in hierarchies without even realizing it. We are able to recognize winners from losers easily.

Winning intermittently has a greater effect on shaping our behavior than winning continuously.

Ambition and success – we often link people who show confidence with the perception that they must be winners. Tom who strides into the room and addresses everyone with a loud encompassing greeting “Howdy” is shown as confident. Hillary who squeaks in raises a hand and scurries to her desk is perceived as a loser.

Today I really got to thinking about how to help my kids become more actively competitive – in other words like the feeling of winning so that they would be more confident in social settings. Well anything to dig them out of the hole of a low self esteem future. I got to doing a bit of research and I’ve outlined a few ways that you can nourish the competitive spirit without over stressing the child.

Our first step will be faking it by getting competitive at home:
Watch your favorite sports team. By aligning yourself with a successful sports team you can get caught up in the winning of the game and feel successful. Competing at some level even if it’s just by being a supporter helps you feel that you are winning too.

Other activities to try:

Play outdoor games like swingball, or tennis.
Indoor games like cards, chess and drafts.
Wii Sports.
The next step would be to enroll your child into a team or individual activity they enjoy and do well at. Join a team that takes part in local competitions.

This is a learning process for all us trying our best to raise confident well rounded children. There are other ways too and I encourage you to make your own search for answers, Google or your local library is a great starting point.

Here is an excerpt  taken from the BBC's “Human Instinct - Part 3 of 4: Will to Win, a truly wonderful documentary by Robert Winston:

We’re always competing, even when we least expect. The will to win is an instinct that’s kept our species alive. In this programme we discover why coming out on top feels so great and why losing feels so bad.
The Joy of VictoryFor our ancient ancestors, beating the opposition was important. It meant they were more likely to survive and have children. Those who got a kick out of winning were more successful and passed the desire for victory on to their children. So over generations our bodies have evolved to give us a feeling of euphoria when we win.
A Constant BattleAs young children we compete for the most useful resource available - our parents? attention. At the University of Michigan, Brenda Volling asks parents to concentrate their attention on the older of two siblings. Immediately, the younger children try to force their way into the game. If they fail to get noticed they release a powerful and effective weapon: the temper tantrum. This invariably gets them their parent's attention. But when the parent plays only with the younger child things are quite different. The older sibling is far more likely to try to impress by following the rules, patiently waiting their turn, offering to help with the game, or even simply saying "I love you."  One study suggests this difference in strategies continues into later life. Frank Sulloway studied historical figures in science.
Sizing up the OppositionWe don’t have the energy or resources to compete all the time, so we have evolved hierarchies to avoid this. We are much more likely to feel competitive with our friends and colleagues - people we feel on a par with - and therefore have a realistic chance of beating. But we don?t bother to battle with those people we feel are much superior, giving way to avoid a fight we would probably lose. We also, unknowingly, send signals about ourselves. For men, one signal to their place in the hierarchy is in their faces. Larger, wider jaws and chins, and heavy-set brows, are the signs of a dominant face, while a submissive face looks more like that of a child.
The Agony of DefeatOur bodies also drive us on to win by making losing feel terrible. And we are more likely to remember our losses- to help us try and avoid doing the same thing again. But losing is not just about feeling bad. In a hierarchical world reputations are very important - even more important than not losing is not being seen to be a loser. Nick Leeson discovered this to his cost. He says his desire not to be unmasked as someone who had lost money led him on to take bigger and bigger risks- until his losses brought down Barings Bank.”

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