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The Soapbox Filipina | October 23, 2019

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Why We Encouraged Our Kindergarten Son to Keep on Joining School Contests

Pier Angeli B. Ang Sen



It is only now that my son is in the kindergarten level when he joined school contests, -four in a row.

The first ever contest that he joined in school, was the Math Contest. In a class of thirty-two children, he was one of the four who represented his class. He qualified for that contest, after an elimination test, held in their classroom. Later, he competed with eight more children from the other two sections.

Humility aside, my heart swelled like so, especially when Math is my Waterloo and it is just me and my husband around, with no tutor whatsoever. It is fun teaching my son though, since he really is a fast learner. ( that would be coming from his avid fan, -his mom)

Today, with the presence of the internet, I have worksheets, short stories, songs and other creative means to aid me, in teaching my child. Plus, there’s my mother, who equipped me with few wisdom on teaching. Just for having made it to the Math Contest, my son had given my husband and I, great joy.

It has been a long time, since I myself, joined any contest. I forgot how competitions like that make one feel. Or how different it is, now that I am a parent. ( something I was not prepared for) Or how it really means to be a contestant, -knowing that someone wins and someone loses.

Right after the Math Contest, my six-year-old son came out of the class room, looked at me and his dad, and with the strongest voice he could muster, said,

” I LOST.” Then he broke down and cried.

It broke his heart for losing. 

It broke my husband’s heart for having heard him say that. 

It broke my heart for having not shielded him from that pain. 

It took all my husband and I’s assurance that it was not ” him winning the contest” that mattered but it was the experience of him joining one, -which not all children could. ( stage mother alert)

But many things went running in my mind. I did feel guilty for having encouraged him to join. I should have given back the reply slip to his teachers, saying he is not joining because he might lose and it might break his heart, –which exactly what happened.

I should have protected my six-year-old son from the heart-break. And more than those tears rolling down his cheeks, more than my husband wanting to tear all the wall panels of the school and more than me wanting my son’s sadness to go away, it was not a good day to hear our son say,

Hindi na ako sasali, kahit kailan. “ ( ” I am not joining anymore”)

That, I expected and feared. But you see, isn’t life one great competition? If that would be my son’s attitude towards that one contest, how else was he going to face major challenges that might come into his life? Is he going to lose faith and give up just like that?

I remembered my childhood, when I also joined school contests. I lost many times and I also won a few. Then, I knew something had to be done, about my son’s thoughts on competing.

If I were to give my son roots, I do not want that type of root to begin with.

Over the Christmas break, my son and I memorized an elocution piece that was given to their class. ( yes, I memorized it too.) I did not oblige my son to join the elocution contest, BUT I had him memorize and recite the piece, fit for a contestant. Yes, I wanted him to qualify for the next contest, just right after the first one broke his heart. And I even prayed for it.

Was I that cruel?

You see, I am this parent who believed in: ” How do you cure your fear of flying? Get on another plane.” If I would wait for him to grow up till he joins another contest, it is going to drag his fear longer that it necessarily should. I knew it was one contest that he needed, something that must help him face his fears and accept disappointments as part of it all. ( although, my husband was hesitant in pushing his son towards another potential heartbreak )

I knew it was the right path to take, especially with my son. He is the type of child who must confront his fears, quick. The more he avoided the experience, the longer it took him, to face his fears. The more us, his parents, baby sat his fears and controlled his environment, -for him not running into things he feared, the deeper his fear becomes.

But the frequent he encounters the things he was afraid of, the higher the chances that he got over them. It takes for him, a lot of getting used to, but it is easier for him to overcome them that way.

My husband helped my son build courage and face his fears, –like going to the doctor or the dentist or swimming or the fear of crowded places. He let him experience it, one after the other. He does it gradually, and not really dragging my son or forcing him to face his fears.

But well, that is my child.

Come contest day, the second one, my husband and I prepped him up, by saying,

” ENJOY the experience, son.”

” Go lang ng go, Rafa!”

As he stood there, I knew he felt good as people applauded him, after he recited. My husband and I were the loudest of course in the audience.

My son was assigned to read the closing prayer after the contest and it gave him a different kind of confidence. After the contest, we heard him say, ” You know mom, next year I will join the elocution contest again, it was fun.” He did not win in the Elocution Contest but it served its purpose.

The third contest of the year came and our son represented his class once again. Well, third time’s the charm. It was on the third contest that he won his first ever medal in a competition.

In the Spelling Contest, he took home the second place, a silver medal. For him, it was a silver that glittered like gold, so to speak.

As parents, my husband and I stood proud, not because our kindergarten was able to spell the words, Christmas or whiskers, or beautiful or shadow or extraordinary, correctly but because it gave him a certain kind of confidence, neither my husband and I could ever give.

The fourth contest this year which he joined was the Christian Living Contest. It required him to memorize dates, places and names. Now this time, my son won a gold medal. 

My husband and I are thankful that we encouraged our son to keep on joining all the contests that came his way. Or that we did not give up, when we saw our son give up.

We knew in our hearts that a valuable lesson was learned. And it was not just our son who became a bit wiser because of those four contests but us too, his parents. It made our son face his fears and we faced ours too.

It taught him how to accept defeat and value rewards.

In life, we win some and lose some. But we have to dust ourselves off and FIGHT.

We will all have different ways of teaching our children. We will have different ways of teaching them how to overcome disappointments and fears. He may be home schooled or experiencing traditional or progressive schools. But the most important thing that parents like us should remember, is that we have to be there, every step of the way.

By doing that,  we will get to know our children better. We will be able to understand their behaviors, their sorrows or just what make them tick. And guiding them will be a bit easier.

So, when they fail or succeed, we might be there to teach them how to understand the power of those two. Failures should not crush dreams, it should build the way to success. While the successes in life should not keep one from accepting failures.

The CONTESTS,  held too much parallelism with LIFE itself:

1. You have to prepare for it.

2. You have to be prepared with something you are not prepared with.

3. You will have choices.

4. You have to listen, to understand.

5. You may win or lose. But getting back on your feet is what matters most.

6. You may not have all the answers.

7. You have to look your best and dress up for it.

8. Fear may be a deterrent to success. Courage is acquired after every undertaking.

9. Get up and take on another challenge, let not one contest keep you from competing again.

10. Your family will always be at the side lines to cheer you on. In success or failure, they remain your greatest fans.




  1. i like your perspective on it. I don’t force any of my kids to join anything but I do encourage them to but I always remind them that although they should do their best, it’s really not about the winning that matters but being able to do something exciting in their lives. To get over inhibitions. To love life. 🙂 Thanks for this.

    • Hi May! Thanks and you are welcome. 🙂
      Yes,you are right, we have to encourage them and not force them. Although, there really is a thin line between these two and it is confusing for us parents, sometimes. And yes, they have to embrace life and be out there. 🙂

  2. Nice insights!(: I believe that if we are always by our children’s side, they can face anything again without fear or hesitation. Challenges are made for them to learn and experience the reality of life. But we should always be there to guide and help them.(:

    • Hi Kaity, thanks!
      Yes, right, we have to be there every step of the way. 🙂

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