Competitive Parenting

On your mark, get set…GO!  Welcome to the exciting world of competitive parenting!

Purple backpack with school supplies on table of desk background

I’ve always heard that this was a thing, the whole “my kids better than you atmosphere” in schools, but I always figured that it would start later in my child’s life – like middle school or even high school. Oh no, no, no. I was surprised to find out that competitive parenting starts well before kindergarten even begins.

I was picking my son up the other day from preschool and I overheard a couple of the parents talking about whether they should be starting their child in kindergarten when they turned five or when they turned six. Surprised, I always assumed that you start your child in kindergarten at five years old. That’s when I started kindergarten. That’s when my wife started kindergarten and I just figured that’s the age that we would start my son in kindergarten. Five years old.

As I reluctantly dipped myself into these parents’ conversation, I posed the question “Why would you wait until six to start your kid in kindergarten?” They all looked surprised that I didn’t know the answer. One mother piped up and said, “Well for sports of course. You have to plan ahead for sports.” They must of been surprised by the blank look on my face, and lack of enthusiasm for sports when I replied, “Are you kidding me?”

Get this, parents are now holding their children back so they have a competitive advantage for sports in high school! What the WHAT?!  I’m out of the loop. Upon further investigation apparently this has been a “thing” for years now.

Silly me, I’ve been busy making sure that my son can write his first and last name, that he knows his phone number and address, and that he knows how to use buttons, zippers and how to tie his shoes. I should have been busy planning his future 10 years down the road, in hopes that he’ll land some sort of glorious high school sports career – and fingers crossed – a big ol’ fat college scholarship! Cha Ching!

I’ll be honest with you, I’m having a hard time with this. My guy Reid is a pretty bright little dude, and I feel pretty confident that he could jump right into kindergarten life when he turns five, no problemo.  Here’s the thing though – Reid’s bright, but he’s also not the biggest kid.  Takes after me at that age, kinda short, skinny and a bit of a bobble head.  He could potentially be fine academically, but if he’s on the young side and small physically, is he going to be picked on and have ZERO chance of succeeding in athletics?

Now the flip side.  If we wait until he’s six so he’s a little bigger and can hold his own,  maybe he’ll be bored in class because his bobble head brain is more advanced?  AND, what if he’s not even interested in athletics?

Oye! What to do?  If any other parents have advice for me on what we should be doing or if you’ve already had experience in this area, I’d love to read your feedback in the comments section below.  Have you held your kids back just so they have a competitive advantage later in their academic/sports career?  Was it worth it?  Again, I’d love to hear what you have to say.

In the mean time I’ll be in the back yard with Reid tossing the football, doing push-ups, and working on his sprints.

Featured in Colorado Parent Magazine November 2015