Why you should never encourage competition among your children, not even in the game!
If you have more than one child, it is very likely that at some point you have said things like this: "Let's see who puts on the clothes first". "The one who picks up the toys before wins." "Your brother is about to finish his homework and you are still halfway through, he's going to win you!" They are very effective phrases, with them you manage to do those things that cost them so much. But these phrases are not harmless, and they have an important side effect: they foster a competitive relationship between your children.
Every time you use them you are saying: "to see if you are better (faster, more applied, more orderly) than your brother". Suddenly the relationship between them ceases to be a solidary relationship and becomes a relationship of competitors. "I have to do it, I want to be better than my sister," your son thinks.
Competitiveness fuels jealousy among brothers
Many families suffer the problems of jealousy among our children. Jealousy is a competition for the love and attention of parents, and often have an aggressive component: brothers who fight, get annoyed, attack ... Try never to promote rivalry relationships because every time you do you are reinforcing the jealousy in your house.
What kind of relationship do you want your children to have with each other?
Fraternal relationships are complex. There are brothers who fight constantly; others that alternate love and hatred; some ignore each other; there are those who get along great from the beginning.
All parents want our children to be, at least, good companions. That the coexistence between them be pleasant, that they do not take their eyes out every day. Every time you promote competition, you are turning them into rivals for a few minutes.
You are giving your children this message: "Dad and mom encourage me to compete with my sister, to win her and to be better than her". Is that really the relationship of brothers you want between them?
Substitute competition strategies for collaboration strategies
Teach them team games. When you are in the park you can hide something and encourage them to find it as if it were a treasure. The treasure will only be theirs if they know how to look for it by cooperating.
Let them do the housework together. Have you ever picked up the chain table? A line is made from the dining room to the kitchen, and the dishes are passed from one to the other. It's fun and they'll end quickly!
Invite them to give you a collective gift. Is it going to be your birthday? Ask them to draw a picture of each other. Tell them that it is important for you that everyone expresses themselves as they want, and that you want to see the "footprint" of each of them in the drawing.
Constructions in collaboration. Do you like to build? Instead of fighting to see who makes the coolest construction (largest, most beautiful, etc.), encourage them to make a mega-city where there are all kinds of constructions: large and small, beautiful and ugly, high and low.
Every time you see your children compete, you can say: "In this family we do not compete with each other". Little by little they will realize that parents do not support this type of behavior and will find other ways of relating, more respectful and cooperative.
Amaya de Miguel. Author of the online course No more sibling fights! and founder of the school for parents Relax and educate