Competition or Cooperation?
Todd ran across the playground. “I’m faster than you,” he yelled to his friend Ben.
Ben looked up from his game of marbles. “I already told you I’m not racing.”
“I’ll beat you in the 50 yard dash at the school track meet,” said Todd.
“I’ll cheer for you when you win,” said Ben.
An interesting exchange between good friends. Todd loved the competition of a race. Ben enjoyed a game, but didn’t seem to care about winning.
As the relationship between these two boys developed, a magical synergy began to grow. Since Todd loved the race and the thrill of competition, Ben started to run with him. He knew that if he sprinted with Todd then Todd would play a game with him. Sometimes he talked Todd into a game of marbles and other times basketball or four square. It didn’t matter to Ben. He loved to be with others.
The boys began to take pleasure in each other’s activities. Todd had fun playing the games with Ben and enjoyed them more as he grew older. Ben even joined the track team in Jr. High to be with Todd. The relay race became his favorite.
The mothers of these two watched the boy’s collaboration and felt grateful for the friendship. Both boys developed skills they wouldn’t have had without the friendship.
What can a parent do to augment a situation like this?
1. Be aware of what’s happening with your children and their friends.
2. Listen when your children talk to you about activities with friends.
3. Support the positives you hear from them.
4. Define with your children the function of competition in our society and in your family as you see it.
5. Identify the role of societal cooperation and family cooperation and its importance for them.
6. Help each child recognize his or her strengths.
7. Aid them in setting the personal goals they want to achieve.
8. Talk, talk, talk with each other.
Which do your children value most? Are they get-ahead people? Or do they enjoy the journey with others? What do they learn from their friends? What is your role as a parent in helping them become well rounded?