4 Tips to Cultivate Healthy Competition in Kids

Mankoana Nhlebela

The Ultimate Race

We often hear it said that life is not a race but should rather be paced. But the reality is that we live in a competitive world. From sports events, to work interviews, and yes, even that parking spot closest to the mall entrance; there’s always some race we find ourselves in.

Compete Your Way

We recently attended my daughter’s first sports day at her creche. A truly fun-filled day for all. As my daughter was nearing the starting line, I soon realised a competitive streak rise up within me. It seemed I wasn’t alone, as I overhead several parents also expressing their nervousness about the race.

Yes, I became that mom. I found myself attempting a quick coaching and prep-talk session with my four-year-old.

But she stopped me right in my tracks; “Mommy, I know what I’m doing. I’ve got Hlelo powers (that being reference to her inner power). Go stand there and shout for me!” So, she summoned me to go stand at the designated parent cheering section.

Healthy Competition

The first group started the race and as my daughter waited for her turn, I heard her scream out in support of one of her fellow classmates.

At that moment, she was the least bit concerned about how she would perform next. She was simply in the moment and wishing her friends well. When her turn finally came I was pleasantly surprised at how focused and resilient she remained throughout the race, and as she made it to the finish line.

My hope is that she maintains her winning spirit, whilst upholding her joy for others’ winnings. I guess a big part of this is to make sure that I enable her to have a healthy competitive spirit. It is great to teach our kids to hunger for more, but it’s equally important to teach them to be full of contentment.

Here are 4 Tips to cultivate healthy competition in kids:

  1. Inner Magic

Teach them to be their greatest cheerleader. Having a healthy spirit of winning all starts with the mind. We need to teach our kids to believe in themselves. In that way, whether they win or don’t win they remain encouraged knowing that they gave it their best. Their winning should never be seen as a reflection of them not being good enough.

Show up for their events and be there to support them. This will give them reassurance that you believe in them, and moreover, that you are proud to publicly support them.

Mankoana Nhlebela
  1. Process over Outcome

The more you focus on the outcome (The “Win”) the more pressure your child will experience. This may foster negative feelings and create tension for them.

They normally say that it is easier to thrive in the things you love or have a passion for. Similarly, the more fun your child can associate with the activity the more they will be motivated and committed to giving it their best.

  1. Don’t Compare

Yes, perhaps you were thee athlete in your times. But constantly making this known to your kids may not only place them under comparative pressure but may also have them believe that they have fallen short of being good or living up to your standards.

Similarly making comparisons with their peers will not serve them well. Teaching them to celebrate their peers’ winnings is essential, but avoid negative connotations that may insinuate that their peers are better than them. We don’t want to raise kids who will form a broken society because they have had their spirits crushed.

  1. Win-Win Situation

Encourage your child to be involved in various activities; both team and individual-based. This will stimulate competition and expose them to the reality that the outcome may not always be what they expect. But importantly, it is an opportunity to teach them that even though they may not win at times, if they are able to celebrate those that do, that is a greater win.

This allows them to creatively view their lack of winning as an important learning experience. Remind them that this is not a once-off process and that there will be many more opportunities to try again. Re-live the moments together and highlight the positives observed during the activity, even laugh about the moments that weren’t so great.

Mankoana Nhlebela

Family Fun

Life principles start at home so why not gather the whole family and get ready to have some fun at the LARGEST LEGO® event in Africa. This will be held at KidsCon 2019 co-located with Comic Con Africa from the 21st to the 24th of September at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand.


There will be various activities including LEGO® games, builds, and activations at KidsCon over all four days.

With less than 80 days to go, make sure you buy your tickets from Computicket so you don’t miss out on any of the excitement or fantastic prizes up for grabs with LEGO® at KidsCon. Book your tickets now for KidsCon Africa 2019 by visiting the Computicket website, or via Comic Con Africa website.

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Mankoana Nhlebela
Mankoana Nhlebela

Kids Editor

Mankoana Nhlebela is an Entrepreneur, Transformational Speaker and Mentor. With a creative flair, she’s the owner of UKARA, a fashion and lifestyle brand, and Co-Founder of Motherly Love Baby Shower, a non-profit organisation that aims to support underprivileged mothers-to-be. With a span of multiple roles, including a corporate job in Telecommunications, one of her favourites is that of parenting. As a mother of two, and a women empowerment enthusiast, she firmly believes in the power of affirmation and intentional parenting.

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