Competition for Kids: A Complete Pros and Cons Guide

Two boys playing soccer.

: Children's muscles, bones, and abilities are developed through play, such as ball games or dance. (Image: Cosmin Iftode via Dreamstime)

As parents, it’s natural to want to provide the best for your children. And when it comes to the question of whether to introduce competition into your children’s lives, it’s not always clear whether it’s good or bad. Here, we’ll provide a balanced list of the pros and cons of competition for kids to help you decide.

Why competition is good for kids

Competition can be healthy for kids, especially regarding character development. If you’re not sure if this is a good thing, here are some reasons it could be good for your child:

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Encourages hard work

Competition sparks the competitive spirit within your child, which could encourage them to work harder. When a child has a goal to win, this often fuels motivation to push and discover their limits, which is necessary for growth.

Competition sparks the competitive spirit within your child.
The competitive spirit could encourage your children to work harder. (Image: Ccharleson via Dreamstime)

Builds resilience

Competition is good because it does not just teach your child to do their best to try to win; it also teaches them to learn how to handle losing. Life is full of ups and downs, and because of this, it is important that kids learn how to handle the downs as much as the ups.

Teaches more about life

Competitions for kids usually parallel what adult life is like, only in a simpler form. The good thing about this is that your children can become more accustomed to life’s norms and learn how to manage stress and pressure.

Develops critical thinking skills

Critical thinking skills are very important in a child, and because of competition, they may be encouraged to think out of the box and figure out new ways to solve problems. It is a form of problem-solving for children, which is why it is so important in their growth.

Helps in building relationships

Through competition, especially with a team, your children will build long-lasting relationships with their playmates, coaches, and other people. This helps them develop interpersonal skills and learn why teamwork is important.

Why competition is not good for kids

On the other hand, this can also be harmful to kids. Although it’s not all bad, there is a certain degree of competitiveness or type of competition that can be bad for children.

Stress overload

Competition can cause stress overload. When your child is not innately competitive but is forced to try to win, this can make them over-stressed, which could lead to anxiety or fatigue.

Soccer coach having a stern talk with a boy on his team.
When your child is not innately competitive but is forced to try to win, this can make them over-stressed. (Image: Stef22 via Dreamstime)

Self-esteem problems

If your child does not learn how to deal with losing competitions, they will develop low self-esteem. This can have a long-term effect on your child if they are not taught how to deal with failure.

Reduced enjoyment

Becoming too competitive can lead to them no longer enjoying what they do. If they already enjoy doing something that is non-competitive, added competition can make them lose interest.


This can also build a thought of “me vs. them,” leading to a very selfish or isolated personality later. Because of this, it is important that kids learn how to play with a team and rely on one another to build sportsmanship, and learn the value of teamwork.

Less creativity

In some cases, competition can stifle creativity. When children focus on winning, they may not be open to exploring different solutions, and can become stuck in a narrow view of what is possible.

At the end of the day, the decision whether or not to introduce competition into your child’s life is up to you as a parent. However, with this balanced list of pros and cons, you can make a more informed choice that’s best for your child’s individual growth and development.

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