10 Challenges for Ultra-Competitive Kids

Ultra-competitive kids are a challenge in and of themselves.  What’s going on in their heads?  As a parent of an ultra-competitive kid and one who doesn’t have a competitive bone in her body I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum.  By understanding what’s going on with your ultra-competitive kid it may help you cope with their behavior in a more positive way.  Check out 10 challenges for ultra-competitive kids.

  1. Fear of failure: Most ultra-competitive kids are afraid to fail.  That’s why they are so determined to win at all costs.  As a parent you can set a good example by losing gracefully when you play games or sports.  Remind them that it’s just a game and it’s supposed to be fun.
  2. Loss of friends: Sometimes kids that are really competitive alienate their friends.  Many times they are bossy and always have to play what they want to play.  Playing something else may mean that they might not be good at it and they may lose.  Losing is the worst thing imaginable for an ultra-competitive kid.
  3. Can’t just have fun: They are always so intense when playing sports, a game or just tag at recess.  Many times they are rule followers too and will complain that they lost because someone else cheated or didn’t follow the rules as well as they did.  This is part of their coping mechanism for losing.  They didn’t really lose, the other person cheated.
  4. Anger issues: Many times kids who are ultra-competitive will lose their temper if they lose at anything.  Depending on the kid this could lead to fighting or tantrums.  These kinds of outbursts are frowned upon at school and could mean that your rule follower will get into trouble and they will feel like they’ve failed.
  5. Fitting in: It’s very hard for a super competitive kid to try something new.  What if they fail?  What if they don’t fail, but they come in and run over everyone so that they win at all costs?  Beating everyone in sight is not normally a great way to fit in and make friends.
  6. Negative self-talk: It’s difficult for ultra-competitive kids because while they are probably very good at many things, they aren’t great at everything.  Not to mention that every time they fail at something it’s the end of the world.  They tell themselves that they stink; they’re horrible at whatever it is they are playing, and that they don’t deserve to be playing.
  7. High risk for suicide: The pressure that these kids place on themselves to win is so enormous for them that when they fail it feels like there’s no reason to go on.  It’s not worth living if they can’t win.  Make sure that as a parent that you keep an eye on them if something happens to make sure that they don’t get suicidal.
  8. Candidate for childhood depression: Younger kids may fall into a depression rather than become suicidal.  They won’t play with their friends and will seem down all the time.  They may lose interest in eating and playing those things that they used to win. You may also notice them sleeping too much.  If this happens seek professional help.
  9. High stress: The ultra-competitive child puts a huge amount of pressure on themselves to win, but also to do everything right.  If they mess up they are beating themselves up so much that you probably don’t have to say anything to them.  Make sure that the stress is not getting to them.  Sometimes stress can make them unable to sleep and eat.  If that happens they won’t be getting what they need to grow properly.
  10. Sports injuries from pushing too hard: The biggest challenge faced by an ultra-competitive kid is not getting hurt.  They push so hard to win, win, win and so they will train hard too.  Doing too much at any early age can cause injuries to an immature body.  It used to be a very rare thing for a sports medicine doctor to see let alone treat children.  Now with competitive sports starting at a younger and younger age it’s happening more and more.  Make sure that your child’s coach is not over doing it with them.  Research how much kids should be practicing and make sure that you discuss limits with your coach if necessary.  Make sure you have a qualified coach that knows what kids can and cannot do at a certain age.


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