How and Why Should We Avoid Competitive Parenting


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

You didn't start holding your precious baby and think you were going to “win” at being a mom. Unfortunately, the traps of comparing yourself 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. You 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 above, 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, we must be intentional and learn to have boundaries in this area.

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

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Why Should You Avoid Competitive Parenting

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

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

As a parent, you influence your children. When you put competition above everything else in your parenting agenda, you lose touch with the realities of what your kids really need.

Another reason why you should avoid competitive parenting is that you migh put your kids in an unfair position to own up to the image you set for them.

When you engage in competitive parenting, your involvement in your kids’ academic, sports, and social lives is unbelievably high; your kids become an extension of yourself and your 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 you and your relationship with your kids. Is that something you want to have to dictate the rest of your and your children’s lives?

How Can You Avoid Competitive Parenting?

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

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

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

Instead of wondering what you 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 want you to go ahead and schedule a free consultation so we can talk about how to protect your relationship with your children. 


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