Have you ever heard an adult say to your child (incredulously – not in a helpful way), “You mean, you don’t know how to ______?” (Name it: tie shoes, pedal a bike, write his name).

I have. It can be humbling for an adult, sometimes humiliating to a child.

Other people disciplining my children, no problem. Shaming them? No, thanks.

Are there skills I could have worked on harder with some of my kiddos? Yep.

Have I helped them learn a thousand other things? I think so.

Do I have a tendency to observe other children and sometimes think they should know how to do more? Sure.

Children have to be taught to persevere, to keep going when the going is tough, to not quit, not give up, and roll with the punches – for their sake, and for development their character (not to show off or so Mommy can save face in the presence of another parent).

If my children are participating in a competition, I want them to do their best to try and win. If they are not in a competition, I don’t expect them to compete at all.

I know adults who compete at everything. It exhausts me to think about it.

A pastor recently pointed out that the only place in Scripture where competition is encouraged is in Romans 12:10 where we are commanded to honor others above ourselves, and in fact, to outdo one another in showing honor and brotherly love.

Not even this verse is a description of competition: Hebrews 12:1 (that talks about running with perseverance the race set before us), instead running toward Christ and his will for us as individuals – servants – for his glory. Did you catch that?

Run with perseverance.

Try to step back in these situations and encourage children to do something we know they can, or expect them to complete a job or a project they are capable of doing. Teach them to persevere (for their sake) and not compete (to please others).

Where do you draw the line between teaching perseverance and pushing competition?

Flickr photo by cscott2006