People have different views on competitive sports/games with children. I personally shy away from them all together.
When I run activities I will always adapt the game to make sure no child is ‘out’. I have lots of memories at school about sports or games where if you weren’t incredibly sporty or competitive then you would be ‘out’ of the game, what I remember most vividly is the feelings that went with it and they weren’t nice feelings, but does that mean I should exclude all competition in my activities?
There is one game I play with the Parachute and it’s called mushroom, basically if the parachute lands on you then you sit down. I feel ok with this because no-one is ‘out’ they still remain in the circle and it’s actually quite fun to have the parachute land on you.
Being ‘out’ always happened because you either weren’t fast enough, aggressive enough, agile or clever enough and I remember children purposely not trying and getting ‘out’ straight away and saying they couldn’t be bothered, but this was just a way of saving face and it became more a choice than lack of ability. Everyone knew though that it was a fear of ridicule and the feelings that went with loosing that influenced this self-sabatage.
So I prefer to play games where kids don’t loose. There is an exemption to this and that is when a child is part of a team and the experience is shared and even then I will encourage the ‘loosing’ team to reflect and come up with strategies to help them next time.
All in all I always try and loose the idea of loosing and failure, after all, failure is just a step toward success, right? It is nice to reward a child when they win at something but that implies that it is not good if they don’t win, for then they fail, and failing has negative connotations attached to it. So at Young Rangers I am trying to get into the habit of rewarding effort and giving praise when a child is trying at something. In terms of emotional intelligence it is the success formula, there is no right or wrong, fail or succeed, there is only effort and trying and that is all we can ask of our little people to help them feel good about themselves and strive for happiness.