The Impact of Unhealthy Competition on Children
Say a child draws a picture, but instead of being appreciated for it or given constructive criticism, they are told to do it like someone else. Or even you might have been compared to a next-door neighbour, whom you have never seen, but are nevertheless aware of their academic qualifications, and just how many times you failed to do better than them.
Being in competition with someone is manageable. But constant comparison being drilled into the minds of children can, I believe, negatively impact their personality as adults.
First and foremost, constant comparison can lead to the loss of individuality. If a child is constantly told to do better than others while being compared to another child who is supposedly better than them at something, they may attempt to become like the person they are being compared to. A child's individuality ceases to exist that way. Without variations in personalities and skills, it is difficult for a person to develop themselves because if your main aim is to be like everyone else, you will never know what your own potential is, or how great your own qualities are.
Secondly, as mentioned before, comparison between children can instigate one child to copy the other. It may potentially contribute to a decrease in the concerned child's creativity and their ability to actively address difficult situations. Their need to think for themselves on how to approach a situation is replaced by an already laid out plan on how someone else approached the situation in question. And you cannot even blame them for being like this. Even adults can follow in someone else's footsteps if they feel as though they are incapable of thinking outside the box. So it is natural for these young minds to develop their mindset like that if you force them down that path.
Negative attributes such as the inability to make both minor and major decisions caused by self-distrust, having low self-esteem since you never feel as though you're good enough, and generalized anxiety can occur due to frequent everyday comparisons to others. To anyone who says a little competition is arguably healthy, you are correct if the competition is with your own self, but not necessarily when it comes to competition between you and others.
Competing with your own self by setting standards you wish to meet can actually help you develop as a human being. For instance, if you wish to improve your handwriting you can practice until it is better than before, raising the bar for yourself each time. Comparing your handwriting with others, however, may have caused your handwriting to be devoid of your own personal touch or flair. If Picasso tried copying other artists, we'd be devoid of the wonderfully unique art pieces left by him today.
Instead, let them do what they do best by letting them be the best version of themself.
Bushra Zaman likes books, art, and only being contacted by email. Find her at firstname.lastname@example.org