Lessons from the Olympics
I thoroughly enjoyed the 2016 Olympic games and all the various records that were set in swimming, track and field and of course the women’s gymnastics amongst others. It was fascinating to watch. We sat glued to our TVs, mesmerized by the beauty and talent that was shown in so many categories. Young children look at these athletes and picture themselves in their shoes one day. What sets these athletes apart? How can we as parents motivate our children to have such great potential and passion, not only in athleticism but in their lives in general?
1. Teaching Commitment
We all look at people like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt and wish we could be like them. They are so fascinating to watch. What we fail to see is all the hard work they have put in over the years to become the greatest at what they do. It takes time commitment, waking up in the morning to go for practice even when you don’t feel like it and sometimes missing out on having fun with friends. It’s not only a commitment for the child but for the parent as well. It may mean giving up time with friends or missing your favorite TV show, to be able to make practice. In life, it’s not necessarily the gifted who succeed, but those who are committed and are willing to put in the hard work to make their dreams come true.
2. Keeping dreams alive
Teens should have a goal or dream they aspire to. Goal setting keeps teens on track because they know where they want to get to. They have a dream and a plan to make it happen. Having a role model to look up to also helps motivate teens to succeed. Four years ago, Gabby Douglas became the first African American to win gold in the gymnastics all around event. Fast forward to 2016, and you not only have Gabby Douglas but Simone Biles another African American and Laurie Hernandez, an American born to Puerto Rican parents. Can you imagine what this does for young girls all around the world? Anything is possible, not only in gymnastics but in life in general. If you dare to dream big and persevere you can achieve your dreams. Kudos to the Famous Five women on the US gymnastics team, for teaching women to dream big and persist till they make their dreams a reality.
“In life, it’s not necessarily the gifted who succeed, but those who are committed and are willing to put in the hard work to make their dreams come true.”
3. Motivating our teens
Sometimes, parents just have to motivate their teens to get them to pursue their gifts and talents. It is said that at age 5, Laurie Hernandez’s parents bribed her with sugar cookies to get her to go to ballet and dance classes before signing her up for gymnastics. What geniuses those parents were. Sometimes we recognize gifts in our children that they don’t even realize they possess and it may take a little bribery to get them started before they develop love for the event. There are some children who are self-motivated and I’ve certainly met a lot of them in my day. The kids who know what they want early in life and do everything to make it happen. You are blessed as a parent if you have one of these kids. A lot of children need some motivation. It may mean sitting hours with them teaching them how to read until they become the best debater in school or you may need to bribe them with rewards until they get it. Whatever characteristic your teen has, don’t give up. If you need to motivate them to excel, do so. The rewards can be truly great indeed.
4. The role of parents/ other adults
As the saying goes, behind every great man, there is a great woman, and I believe behind every great child, there is a great parent or coach, teacher or grandparent and the list goes on and on. Adults are so important in the lives of the children who look up to them. There are so many children and teens whose lives were turned around because someone believed in them and took them under their wings and taught them life lessons. Simone Biles was adopted by her maternal grandparents at the age of six, after being born to an alcohol and drug addicted mom. Her life story would have been very different if she did not have these two adults raising her. Parents, you are so important in your kids’ lives even if they sometimes act like they don’t like you much. And many thanks to the coaches and other adults who pick up kids and take them to practice because their parents are not available to do so. I take my hat off to those grandparents who after raising their own children, have to turn around and raise their grandchildren as well. It is not easy but is definitely worth it. The rewards are endless. Think of Simone Biles. Behind every great child, there is a great adult role model, teaching them and leading them to Olympic greatness, one step at a time.
5. Perseverance is key
Perseverance is defined as steady persistence in a course of action or purpose in spite of difficulties or discouragement. This one word, in my opinion is what sets Olympic athletes and other athletes, apart from the rest of us. We all have goals and dreams we want to achieve. However, it’s only those who persevere who eventually reach their goals. This is true in every life event. Without perseverance, we may have the best intentions, but nothing happens. It takes courage to get up and keep going after having fallen or failed a hundred times. Yet for those who persist, it may be the next attempt that leads to success. We really must teach our teens to never give up, and to keep going no matter how tough life becomes. That is what will set them apart. That is what leads to Olympic greatness.