Many things seem to come easily to The Bean. As great as this seems, we're starting to see the flip side. We've been noticing that he often gets quite frustrated when he isn't able to do things as well as he would like.
We try to be cognizant of praising his efforts rather than his ability. That is, more, "You worked so hard today in swimming class! You figured out how to get your legs straight on your kicks!" Rather than, "You're such an awesome swimmer! You kick your legs so hard!" Yet he still always seems to want to be the fastest/strongest/best. I'm not sure if it's common for this age, if it's his personality, or if there are a whole variety of factors all coming into play. I have to admit though, it's not his best quality.
This drive also does not bring out the best in him. He will stack the deck before playing a game of cards. (Sweetly, but perhaps counter-productive to his end-goal, he will also stack the decks of other players.) He will brag about how he was the fastest in his skating class... even if he wasn't.
He hasn't been as into swimming lately and has saying that he wishes he could go back to his previous level. Last week I watched his class a little more closely than usual to see what was going on that could be making him feel this way. I observed that his swim instructor seems to pit the kids against each other in many of the drills that they do. The mama bear in me wants to call the head instructor and ask if something can be done differently --cooperative games rather than competitive ones --more time in the shallow area of the pool where The Bean feels safe and secure. The rational part of my brain tells me to back off and let me experience what it's like not to be the best.
In many ways I can relate to his frustration. I hate it when I know I've messed something up. I don't like to be second best or to know I could have done better. I can be very hard on myself. I put a lot of stress on myself worrying about things that are often relatively inconsequential.
While I want The Bean to do his best, I don't want him to think he has to be the best.
Has anyone been through this with their kids? Any words of wisdom? How would you deal with a kid who has to be the best.