Cooperation, Competition, and Kids
"What are the consequences for youth who compete and lose?
Carole Ames (1984) looked at the results of several studies on losing in competitive experiences. She found serious consequences for children who fail in competitive situations and events. Youth who do not win exhibit more negative behavior towards themselves, lower levels of satisfaction towards themselves, and more feelings of not being worthy. They are also very critical of themselves.
Ames reported that losing in a competitive experience magnifies the negative effect more than winning enhances the positive effect. She found, in addition, that kids who win have a higher level of personal satisfaction and think they are more capable than others.
A national USDA task force (1989) reviewed research on competition and its effect on youth. The task force found that competitors believe it is important to outperform another person not merely to achieve a high level of performance or receive an award. Competitors value winning more than they value performing a task well or learning how to do the task at hand.
Research of athletics indicates that youngsters who focus on winning tend to drop out of sports early, while those who focus on mastering a skill tend to persist (Duda, 1988). The same researcher found that ages 11 to 13 are the more critical years for dropping out.
Sports psychologist Terry Orlich (1988) reports that it is not uncommon to lose 80 to 90 percent of registered sports participants by age 15. Some youth, in anticipation of competitive events or after experiencing failure at an event, may decide not to participate anymore and never develop their talent.
When a child’s attention is focused on winning or losing, it becomes increasingly difficult to teach the child social and life skills, which is the goal of many youth-serving organizations."
More About This Topic...
Click thumbnails below to view links