Is the Desire to Win, Born or Taught?

I have often wondered if we teach our children the desire and will to win at sports or academic achievements. Or it is something that we are born to do? Is it part of our character and DNA?


Looking back at my own childhood I was never encouraged, let alone taught to be first in whatever I did. In fact I wasnt even taught that taking part was the most important thing. All that aside I always wanted to be first and I hated losing. I wouldn’t entertain coming second! Is that wrong? Well, I don’t think so. It’s helped me along all my life. Whether that was in school or eventually in the workplace.

In today’s world it’s very different. Our children see the big sport stars earning mega bucks and in truth it’s giving out the wrong message, that we can all do that, but we can’t. Only a tiny percentage achieve fame and riches.

So is it right to encourage our children to win at all costs? Of course it’s not PC, but what do we do teach them? That taking part is the most important part? To be a team player? Of course many people would like us to do that, but unfortunately that’s not me. I want my children to win and I believe if parents are honest they all want their children to win.

We all most likely knew somebody in school that was good, in fact excellent at any sport they tried and quite often they were also academically brilliant. There was always one in the school. I will add that none of my children were those kids in school that could do everything, although it’s early days for the twins at just four years old!

The other week we went to the Halloween school disco and the girls were involved in a game of musical bumps. They are still a little bit shy so I sat on the floor near them and found myself waiting for the music to stop and quickly telling them to sit down. I turned around and my wife was smiling and just said you are so competitive! I’m not going to excuse myself because I am competitive and if you want anything in life you have to be, I believe.


With my older children I have always taught them to be competitive and to win. I don’t think it has hurt them in any way whatsoever, but the desire does have to be there, and that has to be something you are born with I believe, and I also think that everyone has that ability and if possible, it needs to be nurtured, and developed into a winning mentality.

Do you teach your children to be competitive and always try to win, or do you teach them to just take part? Would love to know what you think!

34 thoughts on “Is the Desire to Win, Born or Taught?

  1. Really interesting subject! I’m always happy to win at things so I guess I am competitive in the sense of striving to be the best I can be but at the same time, I don’t like to be a sore loser if things don’t work out because I always think that as long as you have tried your very hardest then that should be all that matters in the end. That’s what my Mum and Dad always taught me and I will teach that to my children too. Great post! #thatFridaylinky

  2. I hate losing too, that said I think I’ll try my best to teach my kid it’s about having fun and participating first. I will support him and be happily rooting for him if he does show eagerness to be nr 1, but I think you can have a winners mentality in many ways and to me it’s also about accepting that you can’t be good at everything, so focus your energy on your strengths and know when to ask for help. That’s my thoughts at least ๐Ÿ™‚ #thatfridaylinky

  3. Having four children there is always a natural competitiveness amongst them, even when they don’t realise they are competing. I think some children ARE more competitive than others but it can also be something you teach your children. We always teach our children to do their best, if that means they win then great, if it means they lose then, still, great. #thatfridaylinky

  4. I’m competitive and schools that shy away from winning annoy me! Children need to learn their skills and talents and learn that they can’t win at everything. I also think healthy competition pushes you! xx Thanks for hosting xx

  5. Very interesting post. We always want our children to be better than us and to achieve more than what we have achieved… My girls are quite little to understand the feeling of winning, but I try to encourage them to taking part in different activities and of course I am always happy if they win ๐Ÿ™‚ I think we can do the both, encouraging them to participate and also showing them that it feels good to win #thatfridaylinky

  6. I was taught to enjoy the game whether I win or lose, and to not showboat if I did win! ๐Ÿ™‚ I LIKE winning, but I find I’m very rarely competitive. #thatfridaylinky

  7. I’ve always been secretly competitive and people are often shocked as I come across quite shy at first. I want to teach my daughter to also be competitive as I feel like that will make her a more confident person, I don’t want her to let people push past her to get to the top of any field she ends up in whether that be work or a hobby or talent. As they say it is a dog eat dog world out there and unfortunately I think unless we are a little competitive we can end up falling behind and getting walked over. #ThatFridayLinky

  8. Intresting read. I’m so laid back whilst my husband is really competitive which I’m seeing coming out in both our children. I think it’s a great trait to have and wish I could be more like it #fridaylinky

  9. Really good question. I don’t know what I’ll teach little bear yet, but I think at least a large part of it must be ‘nature’ in addition to the nurture. My wife is very competitive, but that’s different from all her siblings. #thatfridaylinky

  10. It’s the age of old argument of nature vs nurture isn’t it? Me and hubby love winning but are sore losers so I guess trying to find a middle ground to teach would be ideal. He has a stubborn streak (can barely sit up unaided and prefers to stand already) so I do think he has a “can do” attitude #thatfridaylinky

  11. I’m definitely the competitive parent. Infact even when my brother has his sports day at school I’m always yelling at him to win and giving him tips on how to do so!
    Amelia does gymnastics and she is definitely going all the way to the Olympics haha!! (She’s 19 months old and only been for 5 weeks!)
    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pushing them however, as long as it isn’t forced and they’re having fun then what’s the harm?! Great post! #ThatFridayLinky

  12. I believe competitiveness and a desire to win are good qualities, it helps you always have drive for bettering yourself. However, the most important lesson is losing with grace and humility. This is something you can’t learn if you don’t care to win….#Picknmix.

  13. Great post Nige. When I was younger I was a football player, it’s all I wanted to do and my Dad along with all the other Dads accepted nothing but winning. We were very successful in relative terms, always winning trophies or there thereabouts.

    I agree, some people are born with the desire and it needs to be recognised and nurtured.

    There’s nothing wrong with encouraging your kids to win, as long as they win through hard work. Cheating isn’t something I tolerate but genuine hard work and desire to be the best at everything you do is healthy.

  14. I’ve never been overly competitive – i think I will encourage my little one to take part and do the best he can but to not let it get to him too much if he doesn’t win. If at first you don’t succeed….. and all that ๐Ÿ™‚ #thatfridaylinky

  15. I love this post because I am exactly like you lol My dad is the same, he hates to lose! My brothers and sisters are all the same too, I feel that it is a part of us all at some point. There has got to be at least one thing that people want to be better at than everyone else. I want my boys to win at everything! BUT I don’t put a damper on it if they dont win, I want them to also learn that they cant be the best at absolutely everything (even if i wish that they did win lol) #thatfridaylinky

  16. I think this is a tricky topic and you’re right, there seems to be a PC thing. While we don’t want to teach our children to feel so special and wonderful that life seems too hard and unfair for them, I think there is also a healthy level of competition that won’t leave them utterly devastated when they don’t come in first place. I think there’s a balance where they learn to put in a lot of effort, try their hardest and reach goals they set for themselves as well as compete with others without being a poor sport. #globalblogging

  17. This is very interesting. I think everyone has a competitive streak in them but that it will manifest in different areas of life. I also think it depends on the child regarding the best way to nurture or build on that. Our children are still really young so I am not sure the approach I will actually take. I do already know that if nothing else I expect them to have tried their best.

  18. We work at making sure our girls are good winners and good losers…no competitiveness, just kindness. Not saying we have this locked and loaded, but it is what we are trying to do! #GlobalBlogging

  19. I think the desire to win is definitely taught, but not specifically by parents always. Socially children are taught that winning is key to progression in all aspects of life, I don’t 100% agree but I don’t know if it can be helped? Interesting debate! <3 #thatfridaylinky

  20. I want my kids to be competitive. Not to the distraction of enjoying taking part – that’s what will keep them engaged and coming back to the activity or sport – but I want them to have a will to be as good as they can be at everything. I’m very competitive, particularly with sports I’ve played over the years but never lost sight of the enjoyment, probably why I still play sport now.
    #thatfridaylinky

  21. This is such an interesting topic. I’m completely with you. I think it’s important to teach kids about winning and losing from an early age as frankly it’s a big part of life as an adult. There is no harm in being a little competitive as long as you also learn how to be gracious when you win (and when you lose) #thatfridaylinky

  22. I must admit, I am not a fan of the concept ” The Participation Trophy”, I mean, yes it’s so important to be recognized for participation, but to get given a trophy because you came last – but participated? Everything in life has a winner and a loser (not in an unkind way – one might not be as good at it), does that mean give up? no. It means fight for that first place whilst having empathy and kindness along the way! Strive to improve yourself. Set goals and keep going. You are so right, being competitive is not bad, it’s how you handle yourself in winning and loosing. I teach my kids to always do their best, to strive for what they want, but to always be a good and kind sportsman. I hope it works ๐Ÿ™‚ #globalblogging

  23. Interesting question, I’ll be honest I want my children to win but at the same time I also don’t want him to be a bully or self-centered. There is definitely a balance here. I was always taught to do my best, and I think I’ll pass this on to my son as it brought out a little bit of competitiveness in me but not too much where I was trying to cheat or push kids down. Thanks so much for sharing with #GlobalBlogging!

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