What Elite Athletes Can Teach Our Children

2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang are February 8-25

By Kyrie Collins, Publisher of Macaroni Kid Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree, CO February 14, 2018

Enjoy Yourself
Shaun White has got to be one of America's favorites. Part of it, of course, is because he is amazing at what he does, but another part is that he really seems to be having fun, even when the pressure is on. Every fan loves the athlete who plays with heart and good spirit!

Stay Focused on the Goal
Whether it's being an Olympic athlete or winning the school spelling bee, achieving a goal requires a tremendous amount of commitment. Snowboarder Chloe Kim combined her junior and senior years to graduate early and focus on her training ... but it also meant missing her Senior Prom.Β 

Certainly there are times she would rather sleep in late or hang out with her friends. But her commitment and sacrifice have paid off ... at age 15, she became the first female and the second snowboarder ever (after Shaun White) to land back-to-back 1080s in competition and garner a perfect score!

Set the Right Goal
All the training and preparation won't matter if you aren't playing to your strengths. With his proportionally longer "wingspan" and reportedly double-jointed ankles, Michael Phelps's body type was made for swimming. It is unlikely he could be a successful jockey any more than most of us could be the winner of The Voice!Β 

Discovering our talents and skills, and applying them to the things we enjoy, is key to success. As basketball coach John Wooden often said, "Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."

Family Matters
"I knew that however I performed, my parents would still love me," responded Greg Louganis when asked what he was thinking just before diving for a gold medal. Children naturally want to please their parents and everyone needs a fan club. They should know that we will always be their biggest fans, no matter what. One of the best things we can say to our kids after a competition is simply, "I love watching you (play, sing, dance, perform)!"

Keep Your Head Where Your Feet Are
Even Olympic athletes get into fights with their best friend, do poorly on a test, or worry about disappointing themselves or others. But when it's time to compete, champions have the ability to retain their focus. Learning to live in the moment and concentrate on the process rather than the outcome is a skill that will benefit your child in virtually every area of life.

How to Deal with Disappointment
Oksana Baiul, Olympic Figure Skating Gold Medalist, once said, β€œOne shouldn't be afraid to lose; this is sport. One day you win; another day you lose. Of course, everyone wants to be the best. This is normal. This is what sport is about. This is why I love it.” 

We all have faced times in our lives when things didn't turn out how we had hoped, no matter how much we prepared, trained, or studied. As you watch the Winter Olympic Games, talk about the achievements of all the athletes, not just the ones standing on the podium. Help your child empathize with the ones who didn't get the gold and talk about what you think the athletes might do next.