The more experiences I accumulate (code for: "the older I get!"), the more this concept is evidenced to me. The concept? There are primarily two types of people in the world --- those who compete with others and those who compete with themselves. There are many who exhibit bits of both, however, one approach to competition usually dominates in those individuals. Nothing wrong with competition whatsoever, provided it is fair and healthy.
What I have learned is regardless of what competition camp you fall into, one side really does not understand the others' view. I happen to be part of the "competing with myself" group. Time and again, in every aspect of my life -- especially in parenting -- I have been stunned and amazed by people I have met from the "competing with others camp" who just don't understand those of us in the '"competing with ourselves/myself" group. What a loss.
I've observed that by and large, the individuals who relish competing with others end up sowing the seeds for "keeping up with the Joneses" in their children.
The world we live in is already rife with competition. Most of it unhealthy and unfair. Do we really need to be feeding the beast by raising children from embryo to adult who spend more of their time concerned with what everyone else is doing rather than themselves?
Stop and think about it.
These seeds are sown in the smallest and biggest of ways. Here's a small example: Your kid begs you for the latest gadget. You might ask, "why do you need it?" Then he or she presents a litany of arguments, but one will definitely be, "because Bobby or Katie has one." Guilt consumes your brain. Perhaps a little competitive fire fuels that guilt and the next thing you know you trot down to the gadget store to buy your nine-year-old a Blackberry. Yes, it's ridiculous when you read it, however, it happens all the time.
My husband and I have been that parent. Our approach to the question "so and so has one" has always been, "we don't really care what Bobby or Katie have, you are our child and we are concerned about you." Depending on the age of the offspring, you may have to deal with a minor tantrum, the silent treatment, some kind of rebuttal, but they come back down to earth and resume normal behaviour.
If parents today spent more time worrying about what is going on under their roof and less time worrying about the Joneses' possessions and the Joneses' kids possessions, you would likely get more parents who would be more present in their own children's lives.
If we celebrate each others' successes rather than use them as a lightning rod for competition, our kids may actually understand the idea that what you have is really not important at the end of the day. What is important is who you are and how each of us treats each other.
By Lianne Castelino, www.whereparentstalk.com
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/02/donell-bryant-punishes-teen_n_1467774.html" target="_hplink">Donell Bryant </a>made his 15-year-old daughter, Quandria, sport a sign on the side of a North Carolina highway because she was becoming a "mean girl" who needed an attitude adjustment.
Father Montrail White punished his 8-year-old daughter, Amiyah, "after repeatedly catching her taking things that didn't belong to her." School officials called police when White made his daughter stand in the parking lot wearing the sign pictured above. He was asked to leave school property but says the sign will remain in their home in case it needs to be used again. <em><a href="http://www.ksdk.com/news/article/316438/3/Swansea-police-called-as-Montrail-White-disciplines-Amiyah-White" target="_hplink">via KSDK</a></em>
Fifth grader, Tarvon Young, was suspended for planning to bully a classmate. His mother, Tarra Dean, didn't think his punishment was enough and forced him to stand outside his school holding up a sign that read "I was sent to school to get an education, not to be a BULLY. I was not raised THIS WAY!!!" <a href="http://www.wsvn.com/news/articles/local/21007137790589/suspended-student-holds-sign-outside-school/" target="_hplink">via WSVN</a>
Michael Bell Jr.'s parents forced him to wear a sign that read, ""I want to be a class clown, is it wrong?" after they were disappointed with his bad grades. The other side of the sign asked cars to "honk if they think three failing grades are bad." <a href="http://www.local10.com/news/Dad-makes-son-wear-sign-for-bad-grades/-/1717324/9274744/-/y8f5yjz/-/index.html" target="_hplink">via Local10</a>
When 12-year-old Jose Gonzalez took $100 from his cousin's wallet, his dad made him stand on a street corner for five hours holding a sign that read, ""I am a thief. I took money from a family member." <em> <a href="http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_20270115/curbside-confessional#ixzz1sQRwpOay" target="_hplink"> via The Denver Post </a></em>
Mom Ronda Holder forced her 15-year-old son, James Mond III, to wear a sign around his neck that said: "I did four questions on my FCAT and said I wasn't going to do it...GPA 1.22...honk if I need education." <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/20/tampa-bay-mom-ronda-holder_n_825447.html" target="_hplink"> via The Huffington Post</a></em>
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