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Competition: Self vs Peers

Exam is near once again. Many parents are busy helping their children to prepare for exam.  Some are stress out and some are taking it easy, all depends on the expectation of the parents and children. For children who score below the school average, many parents are trying their very best to improve their grades. For those who are at the median, parents strive to do better. And there are the high-achievers, whose parents will count every mark so that their children can improve or maintain their school position.

No matter how we view it, this pressure comes from their peers because the school assessment is based on the cohort. Peer competitions set in because ranking is based on the marks they score during the exams. Due to these competitions, children are driven to outperform their peers. For below average children, once they get to the median of cohort, they would want to continue to improve. Their goals will get higher. It might be to get into the top 3 classes, then top class, then top 10, then top student, it goes on and on. Even some high achievers in lower primary, will aim to get through the GEP Screening Test and then the GEP Selection Test. Once they get into GEP, a whole new level of competition will surface. The cycle never ends. The pressure will always be there. Weaker students are pressure to improve; stronger students are pressure to sustain. Even among kids, they usually compare based on their exam marks or which classes they are in.

Such competitiveness if channeled in the right way can also be very rewarding. Instead of trying to excel due to peer competition, it might be more constructive, if parents encourage their children to self-compete.

Who is to say that kids are not doing well for not scoring above the school average, if they have improved tremendously from their last result?  In my child’s school, there is this “Best Progressive Award” for each class at the end of the year, where students with the greatest improvement from SA1 to SA2 are given the award. These students are given these awards along side with those who are top in the respective class and their parents are encourage to go up on stage with them to received the award. I personally think this is the best award that the school is giving out.

Encouraging a child to self-compete can actually help to reduce these unnecessary peers’ competition stresses for both parents and child. They do not have to worry about how their peers is doing but focusing on trying their very best to achieve the best result they can. Each child no matter what their ability or potential is can always strive to improve the score. Every student’s goal is to keep improving their score each SA and push their own limits.

For example, if they have the ability to score 85 in Math, then the next SA they should strive to get a score that is higher than 85. And, if they score 60 for their Math, they can try to aim for 65 the next round. In such manner, they can continue to challenge themselves to do better rather than be stress out by the benchmark set by their peers.

Some kids are just not capable of scoring perfect score like others, rather than be “labeled” as weak in comparison to their peers; adopting self-competition can help the child to slowly improve their results and self-esteem. I know of parents who are just relief if their kids can pass their Chinese rather than score an A*.

Without emphasizing on peer competition, students are also more willing to share resources in high competition environment. This helps to strengthen their character and friendships with fellow classmates in the long run. As such, there are many benefits to consider teaching our kids to self-compete rather than be suck into the peer’s competition.


This is such a nice article,

This is such a nice article, and it is so true!

I believe in the 80/20 rule, 20% study time can make 80% of marks, and the rest 80% contributes to the rest 20%. So I let my kids study roughly 40% of their time so that they can achieve 90% marks, just forgo the rest 10%, for I believe it is too time consuming and worthless.

But I have to say when I see other kids achieve better by hardworking, I doubt I should  push my kids too, to get some % of the rest 10%.

I do not want them to learn just for marks, for parents, I want them to have an interest in learning in the whole life, I scare my pushing or drilling will fail them in the long run.

But such is life, you have to get very good marks to get in popular schools. I am struggling.

 Tks for sharing

 Tks for sharing

 Trapwithin, Good article, I


Good article, I alway tell DS to better his own score so as not to unecessary create stress to meet another’s expectation. 

On the other hand, I also highlight to DS if his score is below his own potential and capabilities. 

By comparing , we sometime degrade our DS/DD effort to achieve.

IT all a balancing act in the process to get the best between

resources, capabilities and the 8 hours we have daily .

Cheers and Thanks 

kiddo-  a Mum of a 15 yr old DS




Always great to know that

Always great to know that someone share similar values. Apart from being a firm believer in self-competition, I am also a strong believer in knowledge acquisition. Not just study and learn to “score in exam” but to acquire knowledge as long as the child can understand.


I’m an avid follower of the Pei Hwa Presbyterian parents-networking thread. All the fun peeps are there. (",) That means i have also followed many of your sharings there (at that thread) as well. I seem to share quite a few parenting traits as your good self and also happy to know i’m not alone in this quest of child raising itself is like a super competition where one must come out tops as parents themselves before ensuring their children are top-notch as well. *faintz*

There have been times (sad to report) where other parents either think i’m not a good enuff parent cos i don’t "care" to push my children hard enuff… (cos my children can do better if i did)… or that i think too little of my children’s potential… (read : low expectations).

Fact is… i guess i’m just down to earth and grounded. I do not believe that academics is about the "only" thing that is sooo important in life. I am proud that i have good children (most times) lol!… that they’re respectful and responsible… that they have deep sense of family values and strong family ties… and most importantly that they are happy growing children. If they do get to be in top classes and top schools, those are bonuses… which i have already reaped without too much help from my end. Their teachers are doing sooo much, we cannot thank them enough. So much so that they hope to relieve parents of any bane of the children’s school work. I loike! 😉 We’ve been practically almost hands-off the children’s school stuff. We have more quality time to spend with one another and we don’t get mad about school stuff. We enjoy being a family better this way. 🙂

The schools my girls have been with/are in…. have the Most Improved Student award as well. *wink*

Kudos for being the parent you are! Can sense both you and your child share a happy partnership..



Glad you enjoy this article.

Glad you enjoy this article. We can’t change how ours think but we can influence how our kids behave. Enjoy parenting. 🙂

Competition: Self vs Peers

Thanks for sharing, a timely reminder that we should encourage our children to outperform themselves than their peers …. this enable them to enjoy learning together with their friends rather than to keep everything to themselves for fear that in sharing with their friends, their friends will perform better them.

Just to share, a mum of my girl’s classmate (FTWM) were so worried that if she allowed her daughter to study with my girl at my place (our place was near the school)… I will not be coaching her daughter the same way as I’ll be coaching my daughter & her daughter will be wasting her time ….needless to say we hear it from the little girl and just feel sorry for her that she would have to spend time on her own instead after school ….. sigh

Not philosopher ... A parent

Not philosopher … A parent struggling to do the balancing act. 😉

Thank cheerie and LKVM.

Thank cheerie and LKVM.

The philosopher strikes

The philosopher strikes again. Thanks Trap.

This is a very meaningful and

This is a very meaningful and true! Thanks for sharing such good tips…

Thank You!!

Very timely!!! Thanks for sharing!

Thanks Chenonceau, php and

Thanks Chenonceau, php and Happy Mama. I personally find that it helps to reduce stress that my dd and I had during exams.

 Well said!

 Well said!

thanks for sharing,

thanks for sharing, brother…


Thanks for sharing,

Thanks for sharing, trapwithin. This is so true….

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