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How the Race to the Top Can Affect a Child

By Sandy Schroeder

We all love to go to a Saturday morning soccer game and head out for a victory pizza afterward. Helping kids compete can be a lot of fun, but sometimes winning takes over and our kids absorb the impact.

Kids quickly learn from little cues, and they try hard to earn approval. So when they see how pleased we are with a win, the message is sent. Wins are the way to go. I don’t think any of us feel they have to win, but our culture definitely promotes winning.

As a parent, if you help the coach with practices or just stick around and watch, you can learn a lot. Kids are taught to do their best, but sometimes a mindset change occurs. The goal from doing your best shifts to winning at any cost.

A lot can be lost in the process. Being on the field with friends, playing well, and accepting a hard-fought win or a difficult loss can be corrupted by the sting of losing. That’s a lot of pressure for a kid to carry.

This pattern can spill over into everything else, too. Here is what can happen from

How sports work – Kids may learn making the team is good, and starting every game is great, but winning a sports scholarship is really the goal.

How grades work – Taking advanced courses and getting good grades is essential, but earning a 4.0 is crucial.

How music and theater work – Playing in the school orchestra is great, or being in a school play works. However, the real trick is to play a perfect solo or have the lead in the play. That’s wonderful.

How social interactions play out - Being active in groups at school is great, and having a bunch of friends is fine, but becoming prom queen or king is really the way to go.

Nobody actually spells this out, but it is hard to miss, and the quest for perfection often makes perfectly great kids miserable.

This shift from being out there and enjoying it all to absolutely leading the pack creates a stunning amount of pressure. Some parents are so busy enjoying the moment that they miss seeing the whole issue. Then when a loss occurs, everything becomes needlessly difficult.

I worked with a lot of my kids' coaches. Some understood this pressure and did their best to help kids just enjoy the game. Others pushed for a win every time. Doing your best to counteract coaches who are bent on winning may help your kids come away a lot happier. At my house, it helped to keep us level and we had a lot more fun.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Fayetteville, N.C.

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