How to Handle Competition in the Home

Right now, we are in the middle of a thing called the stage based parenting, which you guys, if you’ve been listening to some of these podcasts, you will have heard about. One of the great questions that just came up this morning, I wanted to talk to you, Jeff, about this, because this is a great topic. Miranda says, “Looking for advice from those who have experienced kids who are extremely competitive. Somehow everything has turned into a race, and it has gone from healthy competition to unhealthy. We have a three and five year old and they are always racing to get to the door first, be the first one in line for a walk, finish dinner, get unbuckled, et cetera. It’s to the point that when one of them wins, it’s a huge meltdown for the other one. We are exhausted from constantly intervening and trying to work through the meltdown.” I just want to see some of these competitions anyway. It just sounds funny-

This one hit me in my could. Our family feels this deeply.

Yeah. So she’s like, “Any advice on how to work through this would be great.” So, yeah. Jeff, do you guys have any-

I don’t know if I have a ton of advice. Yeah. I don’t know if I have a ton of advice. But I would say, man, yeah, this one hits me deep in my soul because we feel it too. I think that young, which is similar… Our kids are just getting out of that age and just getting out of that stage, four and six, which isn’t much older. But I do feel like it’s a little bit older, where we were walking through this for a couple of years. What I would say, a couple of things, is rapid fire. One, just stay the course. I’m really big on this thing right now. You got to lay the principle down, not expecting the fruit right in that moment. And I think this is one of those ones too. You just got to keep consistently showing them the principle, and you will bear fruit in a year or two. I know that’s not fun. And that’s exhausting, but that’s kind of what we saw.

Secondly, is just a lot of teaching. I like how you said it. There’s healthy competition, and there’s unhealthy competition. We totally believe that. Healthy competition, because that’s the thing too, is I think some families have no competition. And I think that’s bad for them too. It depends, sometimes, how you define these words. But healthy competition is… It makes everyone better, just like in sports. Good competition… Some of the best competition I ever had in my entire life on sports teams was with people on my own team during practice. One of my favorite teams was in high school, and it was one of the best teams. We went to state. We were really good. We were ranked nationally. I think it was because we were so good at being competitive internally that honestly our opponents, we’re like, “We can dominate them because the game we play at practice is way harder.”

But it was such a light spirited, fun type of competition that you know is sharpening and making each other better. Keep that as the barometer of, this is not good competition if it’s lessening us, if it’s making us worse, if it’s pulling out sort of sides of us that aren’t healthy. So keep that as the thing that makes the difference between healthy and unhealthy. Stay the course. And then especially with your older… One thing I try to do in this one with our older, is not let the younger one win, but man, it is your job to be sensitive to your younger sibling. And you should never do anything that should purposely hurt their heart, diminish them, and not be aware of their feelings. And so I think when we kind of lean into that and then getting our oldest to learn that, that helps a lot too. What would you say Jeremy?

Yeah, that’s good.

Competition with five kids in 20 years and all that.

I know. Man. One of things I hear you saying, Jeff, and Miranda’s saying here is, there’s just not a lot of emotional maturity to handle what’s happening in the situation. So the unhealthiness is just kind of some of that coming out. I know that for me… And April, man, she’s just so skilled at this. She was so obsessed with constantly trying to help the kids feel like they’re for each other. They’re on the same team, initiating things where they had to work together, where that was what was praised. A lot of this comes down to what is praised. You have a lot of power as parents to say, “Okay. Yeah, you unbuckled first. That’s great.” And whatever. Big deal. But, “Whoa, you just help your brother.” That is big-


That’s when you get a treat or that’s when we we’re… So you have to be… And that’s what I think you’re describing, Jeff, about the principle. As parents, you celebrate the principles you want to see come to fruition in a family’s culture. You want to start defining maybe some of those things. This is part of the process we go through in our family teams weekends, where we really help families set up pillars, just phrases, values that are really big for the family that they can just reinforce and come up with creative ways to celebrate. And that’s what gets celebrated, as opposed to whatever kind of impulsive value that your kids might be excited about like, I’m first. I’m best. I’m whatever.

So, I think you really want to craft that culture, celebrate it. And then I completely agree what you said at first Jeff. Over time, time becomes your friend at that point. Don’t freak out at three and five if it’s kind of unhealthy, and you’re still working through it. Craft the culture. Be consistent. And then over time you will begin to see your kids be really impacted by the values that you’re training them in, teaching them in, celebrating in. You want to have this dynamic of having… Having two siblings like this is wonderful for crafting culture, but it will take a lot of time to get that right. So you want to be thinking of how to do that. But those are some of those ideas and…

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