Motivated by competition

In summer 2005, my 7 year old son Andy started selling golf balls inour backyard facing the Eagle Valley Golf Course. He did that in the following summers as well. At the beginning, Andy was excited of selling golf balls and making some money. He could make a few hundreds a summer. But every year, he gets less motivated. Last year, he only did it a few times thatI could count on one hand. I always ask Andy to divide the money he earned and save part of it for college, put some in the savings account, leave some for giving, and have the rest for spending. He said because I didn’t let him buy whatever he wanted, he was not interested in selling any more. That could be part of the reason. But in my opinion,that’s not the main reason. I think he gets bored of doing it as he gets older. This year, half of the summer is over and he hadn’t shown any interest in his old business until yesterday when he saw three neighbor boys had a golf ball stand in our backyard and were playing and selling golf balls. This morning Andy went to the basement and got his golf balls organized. Afterward he resumed his business. I think my son is certainly motivated by competition. I was reminded of an incident a few summers ago. Andy hadn’t been interested in doing business for a while. Then one day when we got home and he saw a neighbor girl was selling golf balls in her backyard facing ours, he got excited. He run to the basement and set his golf ball stand out on the opposite side of the girl’s stand. He thought it was fun. To his surprise, our neighbor family was not amused and happy by his action.They moved her stand a few steps ahead of his. Later in the evening, the girl and her mom knocked on our door. We didn’t have contact as neighbors, so I was surprised to see mother and daughter at our front door. The mother complained about my son’s action.She told me that it was not fair that my son took his stand out when her daughter was already out there with her stand. He shouldn’t have competed with her daughter. I wasn’t sure what to say. I apologized. Later that evening, I wrote a long letter to the mother. First I apologized for what happened. I promised her that we would honor her request and my son would not sell golf balls again whenever her daughter is out there selling her golf balls. But I also pointed out that she needed to face the reality of competition. Competition is part of life. It is motivational for some people. In the letter I also pointed out that she really had no right to tell us what we could do or not doin our backyard. My son could sell golf balls whenever he wanted on our property, regardless of who else was also doing it. I welcomed her daughter joining my son selling golf balls at the same time if she wanted to. I didn’t think that parents should get involved in the business of their kids. They are doing it for some fun and making some money. It’s fun to have company and some competition. It’s motivational. Why should parents get involved and make it so seriously? My son hasn’t been very interested in his golf balls business again. As promised, he never takes his stand out whenever the neighbor girl is out there. That was an interesting experience. Today on his first day of business this summer,Andy made over$20. He was promised that he can spend his money in China when he goes on the trip in a couple of weeks.