By Wanda Parker
July 14-22, 2009 and October 6-14, 2009
I recently watched a football game between two rival teams of which one was highly favored to win. In the first quarter, the unfavored team’s defense made some amazing plays. One young player went wild after each successful play.
My husband said, “That young man is apt to lose the game for this team.”
My thoughts were, “Why? He is just celebrating.”
“He doesn’t have control of his emotions. That can mean disaster,” Joe said.
Sure enough with 40 seconds left to play and the favored team ahead by two points, the young man received two unsportsmanlike penalties – one on top of the other. Basically his lack of control of his emotions in the midst of battle lost the game for his team. Those penalties put his team outside of the realm of a field goal.
I couldn’t help but wonder what his childhood had been like.
· Did he have a loving adult when he was a child to walk through winning and losing with him and how to deal with the emotions that go with each?
· Does he have mature adults now in his life to help him critically think through the consequences of his actions in the heat of battle?
· This young man knew neither how to celebrate nor lose graciously.
He did not need adults who would create a pseudo-world where he wouldn’t be able to learn how to handle emotions in the heat of battle, but adults who would have loved him enough to hurt with him while he discovered the truth that life is not easy – nor fair.
Competition provides a lab for real life living in which children learn and develop the skills to maneuver through the difficulties of life. It requires adults guiding them. In so doing, even if there are immature adults like at a soccer game who act inappropriately, the mature adults in his life can turn the situation around and use it as a teachable moment.
To learn more of how to use competition in the development of children click here