Competitive snowman building
Snow has been falling all over the Northern Hemisphere. You might be fortunate enough to have just the right amount of snow settling so that you couldn't possibly get to work (it's far too dangerous to drive on the roads, I believe you; honestly!) So, how did you spend your unplanned day off work and school? Take the children to the park, of course, and try to build the biggest snowman ever, right? Me too! We set off, carrot in hand, gloves and wellies determined to the godzilla of all snowmen.
We arrived at the usually quiet park to find it crammed with people. Everyone else obviously couldn't get the car out either. We found a good spot and and we began rolling. The snow was firm enough to hold together and quickly we rolled set of massive snowman body parts. We piled them up and soon we had the perfect snowman: a head, a carrot nose and two eyes made of conkers. We sat back to admire our work only to see three other families right next to us, trying to make even bigger snowmen. 'Come on dad, it has to bigger than that one!' I heard a young boy say to his father. Ten minutes later we found our snowman eclipsed by three other larger, better-looking snowmen. One even had a scarf and a hat. A scarf and a hat!
I toyed with the idea of building an even bigger, better snowman
with a moustache made from a broom, a pipe, and a top hat. My oldest daughter looked up at me and said, 'wow dad, that was the biggest snowman we ever made!' I am so glad she did. Her comment instantly reminded of an article by David Hibbard and Duane Buhrmester. They looked at a group of highschool students and asked them whether they competed to win or they competed to improve on their own best performance. The good news was that those who competed to improve on their own performance---what my daughter did---had greater self-esteem and less depression.
We went home for some hot chocolate and talked about how next time we will build one better than the one we made this time.