Ditching Competition in Favor of Fun
Kiddo and I stood at either end of the backyard ready to "play soccer" i.e. kick the ball back and forth. Right away he asked, "are you better than me? Will I win?"
I froze. I wanted to connect with this kid, have fun, build our ability to work together. Not compete. So I said, "let's invent a new game!"
Here were the rules:
- Everyone's on the same team
- Our team gets a point when someone kicks the soccer ball and it goes right to another team member's feet.
- We win if we get 20 points.
It was so fun. All the kids played. They experimented with how to best kick the soccer ball so it would go right to another team member's feet. They let each other know before kicking a ball like, "Adam, you ready?" We all cheered each time we got a point. When we got 20 points we decided to do a "challenge round" and try to get 30 points. Here was our scoreboard.
Competitive games have their place. They can be super fun and motivating! But kids usually get lots of opportunities to compete. This cooperative soccer game was a chance to drop all anxiety about how we compare to each other and just play - together.