As we cruise through the second week of the Rio Olympics, you’ve no doubt spent the past few days chatting the kids about the images that have been filling our screens. And you probably don’t even realise that you’ve been teaching your children some really important life lessons by answering the approximately 2,368 questions they’ve asked about this international sporting feast. Here’s what your kids can learn from the Olympic Games:
There’s no such thing as a ‘girl sport’ or ‘boy sport’
My son: ‘Are those girls playing soccer?!’
Me: ‘Yes, and notice how they’re not pretending they’re injured every two minutes.’
Ok, I’m being facetious. But my boys have really had their eyes opened to the fact that girls, and boys can do anything. They can play any sport, and do incredibly well. We have loved watching the women’s rugby sevens and women’s soccer – sports that my kids believed were only played by boys.
It’s not about winning
The Australian Olympic Swimming Team is a brilliant example of how we can build each other up, particularly when we’re feeling down. Listening to swimmer after swimmer say just how amazing it is to be part of the team, and what an honour it is to represent Australia – no matter where they finished in their final – is such a positive example for our children.
Bronte Campbell sealed the deal when she and her sister missed out on a podium finish in the 100 metres freestyle, declaring, “The Olympics is not about winning, it’s about trying to win”. Enough said.
Siblings are awesome, actually
While we’re on the subject of Bronte and Cate Campbell – how beautiful is their relationship? From the loving kisses planted on cheeks, to the poolside hugs and the words of encouragement. These women spend almost every waking moment together, and they’re totally adorable. I’ve let my boys soak up these televised moments, so they can see just how special a sibling bond can be.
Being strong has nothing to do with your size
The gymnastics will leave any child in awe of diminutive athletes – both men and women – who are able to launch, twist and leap with ease. Size matters little when you’re determined and work hard.
Failure isn’t falling, it’s not getting up when you fall
The fabulous Mo Farah is case in point. If your children haven’t already seen how his 10,000 metre race unfolded at the Olympics, make sure they watch a replay. This incredible athlete (pictured above in 2014) fell mid-race, but managed to pick himself up, dust himself off and go on to collect the gold medal for Great Britain. What an example of pure guts and determination.
Fear isn’t a weakness
If ever there was a great example of using your fear as a motivator, it’s Australian swimmer Mack Horton. He began swimming at age 10, to overcome his fear of the water. Just 10 years later at Rio, he’s become a sensation, winning the 400 metres freestyle. And while we’re on the subject of this Olympic champ, my bespectacled son has found great comfort in Mack’s admission that his very poor eyesight hasn’t been a hindrance to achieving his dreams in the pool.
It’s ok to show your emotions
My children have watched just as many athletes cry from happiness as they have from frustration – and it’s prompted some great discussions around feelings. It’s particularly heartening to see men openly weeping, embracing their teammates and their opponents.
Being a good sport is far more important than winning
For these athletes, years of training, pain, sweat and tears comes down to sometimes, mere seconds. If that’s all they were focused on, missing out on a medal by a fraction of a second would be utterly soul-destroying – and for some it is crushing. But their coaches instil in them the true spirit of being an Olympian – you’re already a champion. Playing fair may not get you a page in the history books like winning a medal will, but it’s far more satisfying.
If you haven’t already, make sure your kids get the chance to immerse themselves in the Rio Olympics this week, as we head into the home stretch. If there was ever a chance to show your children the strength of the human spirit, sportsmanship and positivity, it’s during the next few days.