Recently, I casually remarked that so-and-so is quite a smart kid, immediately he asked 'smarter than me?'. Another time, I commented that A knows a lot about this and that... he would add 'but I know more than him!'. If he hears me say 'Oh this young boy can read so well and loves this book etc..', I would hear him murmur 'but I can read and also do this and that too!' ...
It seems like it has all to do with whether he is the smartest, brightest, knows the most, can do this and that, and being the best etc...
As parents, we think it is GREAT that he is competitive. Since his parents are both very competitive by nature, perhaps there is a gene that he has inherited. Ahem...
We always acknowledge openly to him, with words and cuddles (never presents or treats), when he demonstrates that he is good at certain areas and we lavish praises for his efforts. And in areas where he still has plenty of room for improvement, we *try hard* to encourage, but stressing that more effort/commitment is required from him.
While it is important to teach a child to be humble, we think it is EQUALLY important, if not more, for a child to learn that his achievements and/or efforts are always recognised by his parents. So this household is not shy of praises, both of giving and receiving graciously.
And we always reiterate, at opportune moments, that he doesn't have to be #1 in whatever he is doing/chooses to do, but it is important that he puts in his best efforts and be good at whatever he is doing. And regardless, we always love him. Besides guiding him on some values, we also want to stem out any insecurities.
In the recent few months, his competitiveness has shown up in so many ways that it has really piqued my interest.
It is a fine line between a competitive soul who is self-motivated to progress and the other who lives for the sole purpose of winning *everything*. The former uses competitiveness as a constructive force - the invisible hand to nudge him forward to the ultimate goal. The latter can end up with a really unhappy life, filled with discontent.
I like to think my own competitiveness has served me well throughout my growing up years, playing a big role in helping me achieve every milestone I set for myself. And I have a strong feeling it will do well for M too, as long as we guide him right in his early years.
It is a good development. We like!