The age-old argument of whether young children should participate in competitive sports is one that ruffles a lot of feathers. An opinion that is very much divided, how do we decide if our little ones should be facing the trials and tribulations of winning or losing at such a young age?
Of course, winning and losing is not only encountered through sport and it is likely that even in the most innocent of play situations at pre-school or clubs, your children are already experiencing one of these.

Despite the popular, “it’s the taking part that counts”, Sports Psychologist Amanda Hills makes an interesting point to suggest that not exposing children to competition at an early age does not set them up for life because life itself is competitive. It is important that children learn to lose, as well as win. Hills goes on to express that winning should be celebrated as for some children sport is the only opportunity for them to thrive and succeed.

Handling winning and losing in the correct manner

It is fair to say that competition should be handled in the correct way, so not to deter participation. If the activity that young children are participating in is fun, exciting and engaging, what harm is then coming from teaching children the principles of winning and losing? Frequently asked questions usually involve the positive and negative experiences in competitive sport, especially for children who are of a younger age. At SoccerDays we understand that these experiences may shape a child’s perception and feeling towards the given activity, therefore a balance and how these experiences are handled are important to give a holistic and fair experience to the child.

With a naïve mind, there is a fear of children becoming ‘obsessed’ with winning, and it is vital to ensure that your child does not view every aspect of life as a competition as it could put a strain on their own self-esteem and certainly their capabilities of socialising. Emphasizing that ‘doing your best’ is the outcome that your child should seek as opposed to ‘winning at all costs’ will help avoid behaviour such as cheating or being a ‘sore loser’. How you speak with your child after they have participated in an activity can also shape how they view winning or losing. Closed questions such as ‘did you win?’ put a tight pressure on children to say yes or no. Instead we advise parents to open-up their questions to find out from our young ones about what they learnt or what they found fun about the activity, we are encouraging them to review their whole experience as opposed to just the outcome. Football is not always competitive either. At SoccerDays we organise Football Parties for Kids which are filled with fun and exciting activities!

As parents we all want our children to enjoy and thrive at life, we can support them in this by advocating the importance of both winning and loosing. Teaching children to follow rules will install a democratic element in their personality, helping to set goals for our children gives them something to strive and want to achieve. Team work is a fantastic skill to teach children, being part of a team gives them a sense of belonging, that way they can work together to meet a goal or outcome. A variation of activity choice demonstrates to young children that not everything relates to winning or losing, and simply enjoying something will in turn make them happy. If you and your child are interested in our programmes, find a class and book with us today!

Give Your Child A Kick-Start in Life with SoccerDays

If this has inspired you to let your child into the competitive world of football, we have various football classes for toddlers and children available in many locations that they can get involved with. SoccerDays offer 45 minutes of football provided by high quality football coaches! Find your nearest venue and book a trial today!