Cooperation vs. Competition

When given a choice, young children prefer cooperative activities to competitive ones. In fact, using MRI technology to determine the effects of both competition and cooperation, scientists at Emory University recently found that when people collaborate, the brain sends out pleasure responses. When people play with one another, they play to overcome challenges, not to overcome people; they are freed to enjoy the play experience itself. Cooperation gives children a feeling of being in control, increasing self-esteem, motivation, and confidence. Competition can cause feelings of inferiority, and fosters anti-social behavior and can distort children’s play.

Here are some guidelines to encourage Cooperation vs. Competition

  1. Select cooperatively based group activities for young children when possible.
  2. Take the focus off winning, noticing the child’s effort and personal improvement.
  3. Model good sportsmanship.
  4. Tell stories that illustrate cooperative situations.
  5. Teach games that promote cooperation.
  6. Create opportunities for children to help or cooperate in real life situations.

Pica, Rae. When Kids Cooperate.

George Gerbner, PhD, of the University of Phoenix