There's just a few days until the closing ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics and my kids are totally hooked on the games. Bedtime has gone out the window and we've been watching the nightly coverage together pretty much since day one. It's definitely been a great opportunity to connect as a family and I've found myself in awe of the dedication, perseverance, and sheer mind-over-matter spirit of so many athletes (particularly the young competitors!).
Clearly, these individuals represent the upper echelon of their respective sports. That said, I found myself wondering how parents can somehow use this event as a way to spark some Olympic sized spirit at home (where children sometimes can't muster the fortitude to pick up their socks or walk down the stairs when beckoned).
Here's what I came up with:
1. Help your kids focus on GOALS. I'm confident that no one wakes up a few weeks before the games and simply decides to show up and qualify. The athletes we see pushing themselves beyond their limits set goals and then move towards those goals even when things might not go well. Watch some of the commercials or biographies that chronicle athletes' journeys puts this in perspective. Drawing this to your child's attention allows you to insert a teaching moment and start a conversation about their aspirations. Once they have a vision of where they want to be, you can help them chart a course in that direction. There will be lots of necessary baby-steps and going through this process can help your child practice perseverance and appreciate that personal victories are built upon small, steady accomplishments.
2. Think of your family as a TEAM. Obviously the Olympics involves well-earned medals and potential world-record titles; however, taking time to point out the team sports, races, and events will help your child understand that the while is definitely greater than the sum of it's parts in most situations. When you apply this same logic to your family, competition within your "team" goes out the window and your child will learn that everyone has to play their part in order for things to go as successfully as possible. This means there is room for everyone's individual talents and also that it's important to lend—and accept—a helping hand from time to time.
3. Bring the games HOME. On a lighter note, you can start holding your own Olympic-inspired "events" on a daily basis. Healthy competition when it comes to beating the record time for getting into the car, unloading the dishwasher, getting dressed, or bringing the trash out is a great way to keep things moving. Younger children will likely jump on the bandwagon right away and even older kids—who may dish out an eye roll at first—will buy in if you keep the high-fives and family cheers coming. Just try to encourage team events (versus setting up a game of "who can get their shoes on first") and have everyone compete against the clock or their best time on record. If this takes hold for your family, you can continue celebrating the Olympics even after the closing ceremonies next week!
Sharing practical strategies that help parents rediscover joy in their children (even when someone's crying, the phone is ringing, and it smells like the house may be burning down)