How and Why Should We Avoid Competitive Parenting


In today’s era of social media frenzy, our children are growing up more competitive and addicted to approval than ever before. And, they are not alone, because we, as moms, are taking the lead in engaging in what’s called competitive parenting.

None of us start hold our precious baby and think we’re going to “win” at being a mom. Unfortunately, the traps of comparing ourselves against the parenting styles of others (which is the basis of competitive parenting) are all too alluring to avoid.

Competitive parenting is a trap, and while a little competition can be healthy, competitive parenting is a whole other different game entirely. Most of us can unconsciously take part as a competitive parent.

If you are unsure, it’s important to reflect on whether we have succumbed to the traps of competitive parenting. Take a look at the following questions and answer honestly in how your own parenting style holds up to the competitive parenting standards:

  • Do you get frustrated or upset when your child performs below his/her potential?
  • Do you push your child to practice whatever endeavors they’re involved in more than you allow them to play?
  • Do you set goals for your child and share them with your child’s teacher or coach?
  • Do you think that it’s your job to motivate your child to get better?
  • Do you get upset and intervene when your child does not get the role or part they auditioned for?
  • Do you keep a mental or written log of your child’s performance?
  • Do you try to watch your child’s practices to help him/her correct their mistakes?

If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, it is time to start evaluating your involvement in competitive parenting. One way to do that is to create a Mission Statement for your family and a Vision for each of your children. 

All of the questions, to some extent, are a reflection of a mom who holds a standard or an expectation in comparison to other kids and peers. Although many of those questions can be used for healthy competitiveness in our kids, it’s crucial that we are intentional and learn to have boundaries in this area.

When we overstep our limits into the realm of unhealthy competitive parenting, we can end up doing more harm than good for our kids. Here are some reasons…

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Why Should We Avoid Competitive Parenting

Children learn to navigate through their life by watching their parents as an example of how to deal with challenges, struggles, and conflicts. When we consciously or unconsciously involve ourselves too heavily in competitive parenting, our kids learn to see life the same way; they will engage in harmful forms of comparison. Our kids can become too focused on competition, which can cause the following undesirable behaviors:

  • They may begin to do anything to avoid losing, including cheating, lying, and manipulating the rules in their own favor.
  • They may become depressed because they “can’t win” and so they consider themselves losers.
  • They may become disengaged and have self-doubt in everything they do because they think, “What’s the point in trying? I’m not good enough anyway.”
  • They may not want to try anything new for fear of not being good enough to succeed.

As parents, we have influence over our children. When we put competition above everything else in our parenting agenda, we lose touch with the realities of what our kids really need in us as mom and dad.

Another reason why we should avoid competitive parenting is that we put our kids in an unfair position to own up to the image we set for them. When we engage in competitive parenting, our involvement in our kids’ academic, sports, and social life is unbelievably high; our kids become an extension of ourselves and our efforts.

As such, when they underperform or they don’t reach the “potential” we expect of them, our children and we have somehow failed in life. This puts stress that is toxic to ourselves and our relationship with our kids. Is that something you want to have to dictate the rest of your and your children’s lives?

How Can We Avoid Competitive Parenting?

So, how can we avoid the traps of competitive parenting when it is so easy to compare ourselves to others?

The very first step is to become self-aware of how easy it is to start comparing our kids to other kids.

Heck, it even begins at home where we compare one kid against his/her sibling or cousins! The point is to realize the damage that can be done when we lose focus on the wellbeing of our children.

Instead of wondering what we can do to avoid competitive parenting, focus on what you can do, such as praising your kids for their efforts (not the end result). Or, helping your kids realize how they can be the best versions of themselves.

It’s not about what Johnny did or what Suzie did in class, it’s about the amount of effort your child put into doing their very best that day that allows us to avoid competitive parenting.

Creating a Family Mission Statement and a Vision for each child is an important next step to keep you and your parenting partner aligned.

Are you struggling with Competitive Parenting?

You want your children to be happy, of course. If you are worried that your efforts to help them be happy and successful are damaging your relationship with them, I can help. Schedule a Free Consult today.


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