At a childrens’ party that I attended a while ago, a parent announced a ‘prize’ for the child who finishes his food first. One little boy, after struggling to gobble up his food for a while, suddenly got up, and said, ‘We don’t want a prize that does not let us enjoy the food’. Everyone burst out laughing, while the adult who announced the prize was suitably chastened.
This incident may seem hilarious but it sums up the essence of the way we compete today.
In my own case, as a parent, when my children used to do well in whatever they were doing, I would be on top of the world and feel great and bask in the glare of reflected glory. Usually, I had nothing to do with their success apart from picking them up and dropping them at various places.
At another note, I would feel extremely depressed if they were not doing well in any activity I took them to. This happened because they really were not interested in that activity. As far as I was concerned, instead of understanding them as human beings, I would view them as an extension of myself, trying to make them do all that I was interested in.
It was much later that I understood all I needed to do was to let them be themselves. This is really not as simple as it sounds in a world that makes us focus on competing with the whole world all the time. When we focus on competition ourselves, we are bound to transfer this to our children.
Like in all areas, competition, if used properly as a tool to work on our own self, can be extremely beneficial but can and is hazardous when complete control is given to this tool.
Like the little child said at the party, let us learn to enjoy the party of life and not aim at coming first all the time. When we do this, we shall cease throttling our children too.