Parenting and Developing the Competitive Spirit

Parenting and Developing the Competitive Spirit

Today I am sitting on my couch in the early morning wondering about my son and how he’s doing today.  While you know him as “Mr. Chris” -- that kid that teaches Hyper classes and does cool flips and tricks, I know him as my (16-year-old) “little boy”.  And yesterday, I dropped him off at the airport for solo travel to Philadelphia for the Amerikick Internationals NASKA Tournament.  Competing is his passion, it has been since he was 5 years old.  Parenting him is my mine.  I’m just like any other parent.  I want my child to succeed.  I want him to be happy, inspired, and strong in his endeavors. 

Ever since my son was little, he has said he wants to be a World Champion someday.  That’s always been a dream of his.  Well, of course our kids don’t just end up world champions and professional football players and movie stars just because they want it.  As parents, we need to develop their work ethic and competitive spirit with realistic expectations, while at the same time allowing them to hold their dream in their hearts.  I’ve never told him he can be anything he wants to be.  I never even told him he could be a world champion.  I just told him that his dream takes more hard work than you can imagine and here are some things you can do that lead in that direction.  And then I let his energy guide the way. Sometimes he wanted to practice, sometimes he didn’t.  He was injured and lost focused from time to time.  Yet his dream remained and he stayed the course.  He is now a NASKA World Top Ten Competitor and that dream of becoming an actual World Champion has recently become more of a tangible goal.

How did we make it happen? I think because, as his coach and parent, I never made it “too big” for him and we always celebrated along the way.  We tried to take it one tournament at a time, one season at a time, evaluating and recalibrating as we went.  If the road map to being incredible at this meant go to every tournament you can and compete in every division you can, then that’s the route we followed.  If the route there meant going to training camps instead of some other family vacation, then that’s what we did.  But it was his energy and intention that led the way on all of that.  My job (and yours as the ultimate coach in your own child’s life) was always to gauge his motivation and then help shape his actions.  Because him learning the lesson of goal setting, hard work, winning and losing, and staying the course is what was most important to me. 

So, as we think of how to develop a competitive spirit in your child (or yourself), know first that there is so much benefit from competing.  Competition clearly makes us better as performers and fighters.  It takes us out of our comfort zones so we can grow in confidence and skill.  Do kids (and adults) sometimes need a nudge to do that at first? Of course they do, it can be scary getting out there!  As parents, set them up with a goal to just go for it and help them prepare and practice to be successful.  Remember…success doesn’t mean winning!  Success means getting out there and doing the best you’ve ever done (results aside), celebrating that and then repeating that process over and over.   You’ve heard the quote “A Master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried?” It is so true.  You can’t master something unless you’ve repeated, won, lost, evaluated, improved, and persevered.  It doesn’t come overnight or with one competition.  It comes over time with lots of hard work. I highly encourage involving your children in a healthy competition environment and take on that role to help guide them through the highs and lows.  You might just be raising the next World Champion.  I hope I am!

And…in closing…I sit here still…anxiously awaiting for my phone to ring with the results of today’s competition.  I might be a coach to Chris and many others here at KC’s.  But I am a Mommy first and my heart is with him today.  I am proud of how far he’s come and also how close we’ve grown together through it all.  I wouldn’t trade that for anything, especially because I know that as a result of all of this, my son is independent, motivated, hard-working, happy and ready to take on anything in life.

~ Master "Mom" Karen Conover

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