Are You a Competitive Parent?


By: Anchel Krishna @anchelk

Email Anchel at:


bigstock_School_Supplies_on_yellow_back_763922(1)In a few short weeks our family is going to mark another big milestone: Syona’s first school registration.
This got me thinking about the whole concept of competitive parenting. You may be familiar with the one-upmanship – who has the better stroller, car seat, parenting philosophies, more advanced child, etc. I think this is a pretty common experience for many parents and I know the South Asian community is often recognized for competition over academic achievements.

My exposure to competitive parents has also been pretty limited. Our days are filled with a nursery school that has a lot of kids with special needs, various therapy appointments and the homework that comes out of these appointments, which means that the parents we are around have kids with special needs too. This group of parents tends to celebrate all the milestones – big and small – together. It’s an incredibly supportive community.
Kids often learn their values from their parents and I want Syona to learn to do HER best, by HER standards, not anyone else’s. While she will have to work to meet certain expectations I also think it is important for to stay focused on what she’s doing, not try to be better than the kid sitting next to her in class. I wonder sometimes whether I have this approach because Syona has special needs or because of the way I was raised.
When I was growing up I would compete with my two sisters. Since none of us were particularly athletic, our competitive arena tended to be school. But it didn’t take long to figure out that we all had different strengths and weaknesses (though none of our strengths were math, despite our endless efforts). And our parents supported our strengths and encouraged us to devote some extra time to the areas where we needed more attention. It meant the three of us grew up to follow very different paths: me – an education in journalism and a career in business communications; my middle sister is working on her PhD in political science and my youngest sister is an incredible teacher. You will note that none of us are engineers, doctors or accountants, but our parents are really proud of us. ancheldd

Perhaps that is because they encouraged us to pursue what we wanted to do and really focus and excel in our areas of interest. They pushed us to achieve our best and spend extra time in the areas that were more of a challenge. It meant that we didn’t get asked whether we had the top mark in the class, but did get asked where the other two per cent was if we came home with a 98. We didn’t get compared to others and their strengths. We got compared to ourselves.

It’s no secret that the South Asian culture puts a high value on academic and professional achievement. As parents it is easy to let the pressure to compete get to us and filter down to our kids. And as parents it is our job to resist that pressure and focus on our children and our children only.


Here are my top three tips to help your child excel without using competition as a tool: 

Parenting Writer

Parenting Writer

1. Don’t compare. Avoid comparing your child or yourself to others.
2. Model your values for your child. This includes demonstrating how you push yourself to do your best as an individual.
3. Praise strengths and leave some extra time to work on the things that are more of a challenge.
While I think some healthy competition can be a good thing, I also think that ending the unnecessary comparisons can help us create a world that makes our kids strong and helps them achieve their personal best, whatever that looks like.

Are you a competitive parent? What are the tools you use to help your kids achieve their best?

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There are 2 comments

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  1. fatema

    Love this article and the beautiful picture of Syona. I have been following your pieces in Today’s Parent as well, you have an awesome family!

  2. Anchel

    Thanks so much Fatema. We certainly are very lucky. I really appreciate your kind words. Wishing you and your family all the best…thank you for reading – it means so much! xoxo

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