Help needed to STOP being a competitive parent!!

(32 Posts)
Katnisscupcake Tue 03-Dec-13 15:38:29

I am genuinely asking for help here.

DD is only in Reception so I know I have a loooooong way to go with her being at School. So I really need help to stop being so competitive.

Did anyone used to be competitive where their DC's education was concerned and found ways to stop?

If we get the Newsletter and someone in DD's class gets 'Helper of the week' or some-such award, I want to know why they've got it and not DD which I know is completely crazy and irrational. sad

I know that I need to get over this because I don't ever want DD to think I'm a pushy parent (and in fairness I always hide my worries/fears etc from her) but I worry so much about her education and her future, but irrationally so.

Has anyone experienced this and what did they do to stop it? Any advice gratefully received because I can see sleepless nights starting about this...

CloverkissSparklecheeks Wed 11-Dec-13 08:59:27

I am a competitive person by nature, mainly with myself and my challenges but my competitiveness was not helped with DS1 being 'g&t' (I hate that saying). Luckily DS2 is not, he is pretty average and has to work hard, I am not in the least competitive with him and I think I am much better with DS1 now as a result.

Part of me still wants to know that he is doing as well as he was when he first started school but most of me is now very happy to see him progressing at the right rate for him.

Its so daft as I could not actually care less how well they are doing in comparison to others as long as they are reaching their potential but because of DS1 being so academic I find competitive thoughts sneaking in now and then!

Saracen Wed 11-Dec-13 00:54:36

I felt somewhat like you when my eldest was small. I'm a competitive person; it's part of my nature. That was starting to creep into my parenting despite my best efforts to push it down. I wanted my dd to win things and be recognised, But that wasn't important to her.

This became worrying when my dd showed a bit of interest in chess and I discovered that I cared a great deal whether she won. I decided that it's perfectly fine for me to be competitive, but that my kids shouldn't be the tool for that. It isn't fair to them.

So now I go out and play chess myself every week, rather than encouraging them to do so. I am managing to leave my kids to potter along happily. For me, it was just a question of taking the focus of my competitiveness off them.

Katnisscupcake Mon 09-Dec-13 11:08:10

Thank you PastSellByDate, I meet up with a couple of the Mums already and we all get on really really well. I find it's also good to bounce things off of others and find out whether they have the same concerns about things that the school are/are not doing. So far, all of us present a united front. There are 20 children in the class and 16 Mums are going out for dinner smile.

They're a really lovely bunch. smile

PastSellByDate Thu 05-Dec-13 16:53:04

Hi Katnisscupcake

I think going out with other Year R Mums is a great idea. First it's good to put names to faces - instead of endlessly calling them X's Mummy.

Second once you start to learn more about them and their kids, although you may have a moments glory for something your own DC shines at, you'll also find that you're cheering like mad for the son of a DC who got a maths prize after years of struggling.

Get into overcoming challenges... I highly recommend it. There's a group of us who've gradually become good friends since YR and now in Y6 were thrilled at X doing well at swimming, Y doing well at ballet, Z's brilliant story writing and my DC improving in reading/ maths, etc... Genuinely celebrating for each others children and cheering at assemblies.

I hope you get there too!

Katnisscupcake Thu 05-Dec-13 16:47:03

Marytuda - what you say makes perfect sense, it's so true!!

ReallyTired - I fear you may be right. I say I fear because I've recently been seeing a fertility specialist who has ascertained thankfully, that there is nothing wrong with me (following recent Lap and Dye) and no reason why I can't have another baby. But with all the procedures, worries etc it's made us revisit whether we actually 'want' another DC. Hence 'I fear' you may be right because I do think that would improve my competitiveness and I sincerely believe that having a sibling would be really really good for my shy, quiet DD and may well help improve her confidence, but it would also be a risk because we're not 100% sure anymore of what we want sad. Plus I'm 39 so time is not on my side...

PastSellbyDate - again, another great post which gives me things to think about.

I'm actually going out on a 'Reception Mums' night out next Friday because in all honesty, we actually all get on really well, having previously not known each other. Even the teachers have said what a lovely friendly bunch of Mums we are. smile But it will be interesting to see if I can keep my mouth shut because I have no doubt that there will be a few mums there who may be/feel competitive (like me) and in some cases a little judgey...

Maybe I'll post on MN from the loo and ask for exercises to stop me saying stuff - deep breathing and the-like!! smile

PastSellByDate Thu 05-Dec-13 15:23:55

Hi Katnisscupcake:

Loved what ReallyTired has to say - have 2 DDs - and couldn't agree more. Personality/ attitude has a lot to do with success (academic/ sporting/ musical/ artistic/ etc...)

The only other thing I will say is being competitive - in the sense of being aware of how others are doing (at your school/ at other schools) is no bad thing. It does help you to see what is possible/ what other children are achieving.

For us with DD1 badly struggling, it wasn't about 'showing off' or being that smug Mum in the playground - it was about understanding that something wasn't quite right and trying to work out how we could help.

I've personally always taken the view that everyone has something they're good at - it's just a matter of finding it and nurturing it.

ReallyTired Thu 05-Dec-13 14:58:13

lol... The secret of curing competitive parenting is to have another baby, preferly a boy! It makes you realise that a lot of what a child achieves is down to nature and what they choose rather than your parenting!

marytuda Thu 05-Dec-13 14:48:10

Gosh this struck a cord; even if not all parents suffer from it, it's obvious that lots do, including me once. It's a form of mild mental illness in my view that strikes particularly when pfbs or only children start reception - that's when, for the first time really, we see them with a large group of their peers. Bang go all the fond illusions we may have indulged about their precocious reading, writing, general exceptionally giftedness, whatever else.
In their place, as we gain perspective, comes a gradual recognition of our child's genuine qualities, strengths (and weaknesses), which may be a long way from the ones we fondly imagined, but which become all the more treasured for that. Meanwhile the tactics mentioned by Tailtwister above are great. And don't be drawn by other competitive parents . . Some will be struggling to bring themselves under control as well, but don't waste time with those that can't or won't.
Building relationships with other children in the class also helps, I've found, so that you take pleasure in their achievements too. At best you come to see the whole class as a brilliant team.

Katnisscupcake Wed 04-Dec-13 17:59:24

Thanks again all.

Tailtwister, what you do sounds very wise and I think I will try and follow your lead.

Every day I tell DD I'm proud of her for something. Whether it's spelling a word correctly or learning to balance on one leg! She knows we are always proud of her and love her so very much. She never has to question that. smile

Tailtwister Wed 04-Dec-13 15:25:28

I suffer from a competitive streak too, so I know where you're coming from.

I deliberately stay away from anything which will allow me to compare other children to DS. I don't ask about reading groups and don't discuss reading books or homework with other parents. They have star writer etc which is hard to avoid as it's advertised, but I work very hard not to allow myself to make comparisons. I try to keep perspective and measure DS against his own progress only.

Bonsoir Wed 04-Dec-13 13:56:01

It's normal to be worried about where your DC is versus his/her peers in the early years. They all develop at different rates on the varied aspects of development and there are always some DC who will seemingly be miles ahead of yours on something. Fear not! Time passes and things even out!

petteacher Wed 04-Dec-13 13:40:07

well all parents dont want to end up like Vinny Jones or sir Alex And all children are not competitive. Competition is usuall winner takes all

Kat - I think if you are appreciating her for who she is right now, then that is the most important thing and she will feel secure in this and it won't be such an issue for her whether others notice her or not.

mammadiggingdeep Tue 03-Dec-13 23:36:49

My dd1 starts in September 2014...desperately not wanting to be like this. I've witnessed it with a few friends. I want to be proud of her just being her and trying her best. I hope I can do that and teach her just to try to better herself and not compete with others progress but concentrate on her own.

Oblomov Tue 03-Dec-13 23:26:02

I don't agree with the first few posters. I don't think it's normal. I was not like that.
With ds1 all I wanted was for him to be ok. Nothing more. I just wanted to know that he was ok, happy, not struggling.
I was happy, for the other child when they got top of the class, or head teachers praise. I wasn't jealous. I didn't think why isn't it my son.
I think you need to look at why this bothers you and what is driving this.

ShoeWhore Tue 03-Dec-13 23:13:30

<whispers> they all get a go at Star of the Week. Some of the reasons for getting it are erm a little more creative than others but everyone gets a turn and so will your child.

Nothing like your children starting school to bring out all sorts of baggage either - I've been there. But you will be OK OP, it does get easier as you get into it. Celebrating your dd for being herself is very good advice.

DeWe Tue 03-Dec-13 23:03:26

If it helps: Helper of the week is probably done on a list so they all will get it at some point. Not saying that any one hasn't done something special, but the chances are that they just make sure each get a go.

It doesn't matter whether she is THE best as long as she achieves her best potential.
In a class it depends on everyone else as well. A bit like when in a competition they ask what they need to do to win, and they go on about "I need to improve X, focus on Y..." no! All they need to do is be better than the others.

By the third dc I'm definitely faking the enthusiasm at times for such awards anyway.

mammadiggingdeep Tue 03-Dec-13 22:00:56

Educatingarti...such a lovely response. So easy to get caught up with it all and forget their mere babes. Precious times...

GoodnessKnows Tue 03-Dec-13 21:42:42

Gosh. Didn't realise that mums were really like that. Call me naive, but it sounds like the stuff of novels. Get a grip and appreciate her for what she does. Recognise that her self-esteem is more important than your pride or than the award of Helper of the Bloody Week. Self-esteem and confidence help a child to be confident. Confidence and PERSONAL BEST ( striving to improve without comparison to peers, appreciating ALL efforts as well as outcomes) will engender motivation. Enough said.
If you're finding it really tough, seek counselling.

dozeydoris Tue 03-Dec-13 18:40:54

Well, I if I say that this stage of school is not v important I will get lambasted, but really it's so much more important that they do well at GCSE and A level.

I would watch for evidence of a special interest or flair for painting, writing, netball, anything at all that can be acknowledged and recognized and make sure that the opportunities to star at whatever this is is encouraged.

Twighlightsparkle Tue 03-Dec-13 18:21:33

Don't panic! It lessens with time!

I think you sound like. Genuine person

Once your child is at school it's easier.

Katnisscupcake Tue 03-Dec-13 16:44:33

Thank you SilverViking, you're so right. And thank you for the suggestion, I will congratulate the little girl who got 'Helper of the week' because her Mum is a friend of mine and it was my 'pushing' that got my friend to move her DD to DD's school because she was miserable in her own. So thank you smile!

SilverViking Tue 03-Dec-13 16:38:34

As someone else said, try to appreciate things she does do, and praise her for that. Also, appreciate other childrens achievements, and openly praise them in front of your child, so your child feels good about hearing and praising others.
Finally, accept that it can't be your child all the time that gets the best part/award etc, and there has to be room for everyone.
That's not to say you don't encourage her to do her best, and always better herself ... But she can't always be number one.
In our family, the children have very different talents, and watching then grow up, we can see how what one child could only dream of attaining, another can do without much effort .... Yet they all have something they are brilliant at, or can be proud of that is different from the others.

Congratulations in getting over the most difficult part, and recognise that this is something you want to improve in yourself ..... Many never get this far, never mind attempting to do anything about it. Competitive-person/parent syndrome is such a common ailment, and makes it very difficult to have a genuine friendship with that person.
Good luck!!

Katnisscupcake Tue 03-Dec-13 16:25:54

Thank you all for your supportive words.

educatingarti, I think you are right that the feelings coming out are actually feelings that I've harboured about myself over the years. I am very low in confidence and self-esteem. I am one of 5 DCs and was always the one that was ignored whereas my other siblings were outgoing and confident.

Over the years I've understood that my parents left me alone because they were just pleased that I was getting on with it and not causing any trouble unlike my siblings but I actually just felt 'forgotten'.

I wonder if that is part of the reason that I want DD to be recognised for things. She is amazingly funny and sweet and I feel blessed every day that I have her. I just hope that others see what we see at home and that she doesn't get 'forgotten' like I feel I was... sad

Have a look at how you place value on yourself - do you mainly feel valued (or not) for your achievements? If so, can you start to challenge your thinking on this?

Try and notice something each day where you appreciate your DD for her "her-ness" and "now-ness". Eg enjoy her enthusiasm for something, her excitement about Christmas, the way she likes to snuggle up to you with a book to share, the expressions on her face when she is engrossed in something - whatever it is that is about who she is right now, rather than what she is achieving. Take time to appreciate these things in the here and now. She will only be at this age/stage for a very short time - there will be very different things to appreciate about her when she is 15 grin

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