Competition vs. Cooperation


This has been weighing heavily on my mind recently.  Everywhere I go, it seem that like there is competition

  1. Boy scouts.  In the pinewood derby, the kids make cars and race against EACH OTHER
  2. At Church – The most reverent kid sits in the first chair, and the least reverent kid sits in the last chair.  Each kid knows exactly where they stand.  It’s there for everyone to see.  If you’re sitting in the last chair, it’s not feeling too good.  However, if you are bold enough, or know enough answers, you can move-up (at the expensive of someone who then moves down).
  3. Even at the end of the year cub scout banquet, the kids are asked to make a unique (blue and gold) cake to enter into what?  Yet another competition.

I remember, in graduate school, the professor handing out exams.  When the student did well on the exam, he would say (in front of everybody) good job.  When the person bombed the exam he wouldn’t say anything at all.  I was one that bombed exams, and I was totally traumatized.  I was 25 years old – an adult (and still am traumatized 13 years later).  What are we doing to K-6 graders?

Really.  Positivity goes a long way.

Where does it all end?  You need competition in order to make your kids sit in their chairs and be respectful?

Come on now.

I am of the opinion that you cannot get anywhere in this world alone.  You need to be able to collaborate – work cooperatively.  So, why aren’t we teaching our children these things?  It’s certainly not the schools job.   Kids should know how to cooperate with others (and be respectful) before they go to school.  It’s our job as parents to teach them.  They then can go on to be positive role models for their peers and teachers.

Let’s think about this logically.  Can teachers effectively work without others around them to bounce ideas off of?  What about doctors?  Do you think they can help a patient without others to collaborate with?  What about Mothers?  Do you think you can effectively parent your child without the advice from others around you?

Does one person really know it all?

I am all for healthy competition.  You play soccer, you compete.  Tennis – yes, you compete.  Who gets the answers first in a math class? or who does the best on a test?  Or who is the most quiet or answers the most questions in Church?  No, no, and no.  Unhealthy.

Shouldn’t kids learn respect, just because it’s good to be nice?  Why does there need to be a prize for the kid in the first chair?

Why can’t we celebrate everyone or no one?

Can someone please explain this to me because I can’t wrap my tiny brain around it.


Thanks to for the lovely picture!

About Lisa

Hey! Thank you so much for stopping by. I'm Lisa - a homeschool mom of 3 (2 boys and 1 girl). I care about the strength of the family in America, and often blog about babies/kids, natural parenting, homeschool, and marriage. Before you leave, please sign up for my monthly newsletter (on the top right). If you do, you will be well rewarded with notification of all giveaways and sales - which will not be announced on the blog. Google+ Profile


  1. I totally get what you’re saying and I don’t like it either. Even if we, as parents, teach our children to work with others, it seems like school and other extra curricular activities are set up just to undo our teaching. The boy scouts drives me the most crazy, probably because I’ve been a den leader for the last year and a half. Not only are they preaching competition at every turn, with the recent controversy over gays in the boy scouts, I’m not sure their stance on anything is quite healthy.

    I’m not sure I much care for the way your church has them sitting in chairs. That seems really unhealthy. While I understand that using competition to increase the desired individual behavior, I think it has its time and place – like on the sports field, when kids are older. (I think younger children thrive better with sports where teamwork is the focus.) Not in church.

    • Totally. The boy scouts definitely has it’s positives and negatives. On one hand, I really love how they teach the boys. It’s really great for my son – camping, tying knots, etc. Plus, it’s a great activity that my husband and son can do together that both enjoy. The discrimination – is hard. This was one thing that I struggled with when I wanted him to join the cub scouts. I’m still not sure how to reconcile that.

      The church thing bothers me – but it works. The kids (at least in my class) are more reverent. I’m just uncomfortable with it, and definitely don’t want that for my kids. I have found myself doing things against my own principles to try to get the kids who are always in the last seats up towards the front. Personally, I hate being called out. If I know the answer I will raise my hand and if I don’t, I won’t. I hate being called on if I don’t know the answer. It makes me very uncomfortable, and I can tell it makes them uncomfortable as well. However, I have to get the others to speak somehow or else they will always be in the back. I just ask the other classmates to help them out – then let them move up in rankings.

      The more I write this, the more I think my solution isn’t a good one either.

  2. Uh, it bothers me so much that, at a young age, kids are conditioned to think that everything is about who wins. We work hard to teach our daughter that it doesn’t always matter who wins or finishes first, but it is about participating in the activity and spending time with our friends.

    • Hey Shannah, thanks for stopping by.

      Yeah, it bothers me too – a lot – which is where this post is born. Not sure what the answer is, if there is one. However, I am sure we can do better than we are doing now.

  3. doing your very best, your very very all God asks….the results are up to Him. If we do everything we can, prepare, study, work hard…what is written on a report card or on the score board doesn’t matter so much because we know in our hearts we did our best.

  4. You are totally right! While competition motivates some kids to try harder, it can be such a negative force. I remember feeling terribly about myself as a student because I wasn’t as good as this other girl or the other group of people that I was TOLD to compete against.

    This is dead on, thank you!

  5. With my four-year-old, EVERYTHING is a competition. Drives me NUTS! We are starting his first team sport next month, and although technically that will be a competition too at some point (they don’t keep score at this age), I hope that it will teach him about TEAMWORK and working together.

    • Yes…yes…yes! Even with my son’s soccer, it’s about teamwork. They did not win a game all season, but still had fun. He is 8 and that attitude probably won’t last much longer.

  6. I’m not a big fan of competition for young children in general, but a reverence competition? Who thought that was a good idea???

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