There are many reasons why you should choose cooperative games and toys over competitive ones. In this article, we’ll list some of those reasons and explain why we believe cooperative play is more valuable than competitive play.
From a very young age your child is introduced to a competitive world and surrounded by a competitive spirit. Think back: How many times have you heard yourself bragging that your infant sat up at an earlier age than a sibling or your friend’s child? Or bragged about how young your child was when they took their first step?
And how many times have you remained silent when you heard about someone else’s kids who walked a month or two earlier than yours?
Kids are pushed to compete by parents, grandparents, teachers and others very early on. And while competition is a part of life and it definitely has its place in your child’s development, we believe that what parents should be stressing is cooperative play, rather than competitive play.
Cooperative play is important to the social, emotional and cognitive growth of your child.
Here are some important concepts our kids can learn from cooperative play.
Something as simple as encouraging two toddlers to roll a ball back and forth teaches them the principles of sharing and taking turns. Because they have fun when rolling and sharing the ball, they begin to understand that sharing is a good thing. In addition, they begin learning about taking turns.
So whether your child prefers rolling or catching the ball, they’ll learn the importance of sharing and taking turns.
Kindness And Helping Others
As kids grow older and begin to play different cooperative games, they quickly learn the benefits of kindness and helping others. The only way to win the game is for all of the players to work together so kids will naturally want to help one another because they have a common goal.
In competitive games, kids are less likely to help others because they want to win the game and helping another player decreases their own chances of winning.
Improved Communication Skills
Children who play together cooperatively are more likely to communicate with another. As kids practice communication skills such as talking, listening and asking questions, they improve those skills and that helps them to communicate more effectively in the future.
Also, in cooperative play situations, kids are more likely to communicate respectfully with one another than they are in a competitive play situation.
Reduces Aggression In Young Children
Very young children often have difficulty controlling their emotions. Pitting kids against one another in a competitive environment is bound to bring out some uncontrollable negative emotions because winning is the main goal.
In cooperative play, the emphasis is on fun and working together, which helps bring out more positive feelings and reduces aggressive tendencies.
Problem Solving Skills
Cooperative play helps kids develop their problem solving skills quicker and easier because they learn from the other players.
Your child learns to look at a problem from various points of view and that helps them find the best overall solution.
Kids who are given plenty of opportunities to play cooperatively together build friendships based off of their shared experiences and fun.
Friendships are important because they help your child feel accepted and valued, which is very important for their emotional and social growth.
Building A Sense of Community
Cooperative games and toys help children build a sense of community where everyone is valued. The stronger the sense of community you build in your child and the more often that sense of community emphasized, the better off the world will be for everyone, including your child.
A strong sense of community is important for everyone because it helps foster a sense of belonging and it encourages us to help others.
Working Towards A Common Goal
While competitiveness in the workplace will always exist to some degree, more and more companies are focusing on the need for teamwork.
Groups of people who may not know each other that well are encouraged to work towards a common goal.
Children who learn teamwork early on in life will be better equipped to engage in teamwork as an adult, and that will go a long way in helping them feel good about their contributions in all areas of their life.
People who are pro-competition in all areas of life will tell you that competition builds self-esteem. And perhaps it does for those who come out on top.
But how much self-esteem does it build for those who don’t win?
With cooperative games and toys, every player is as important as the next and the this motivates the players to encourage and help each other along the way.
When kids get this type of encouragement and learn that their contributions are appreciated no matter how big or small, they feel good about themselves and the world around them.
When children have high self-esteem, they are much more likely to have the confidence to try new things. And if they’re not so great at something, they have the self esteem to improve, should they desire to do so.
We’re not suggesting that we do away with healthy competition altogether. But we do feel that balancing out that competition with plenty of opportunities for cooperative play will result in healthier, happier, and more productive kids.