02-11-2014 (Dayton, OH) -
Every four years the world comes together to watch athletes from all over compete in the Winter Olympics. The Olympic Games bring Americans together as they cheer on their favorite athletes and root for Team USA. They’re also a great activity for families to watch together - and offer a number of valuable lessons for kids!
“I encourage parents to use the Olympics as a time to get kids interested in exercising, learning about goals and talking about winning and losing,” says Lora Scott, MD, co-medical director of sports medicine at Dayton Children’s.
As a pediatric sports medicine expert, Dr. Scott offers six valuable lessons parents can talk to their children about while watching the Olympics.
- Bundle up and wear protective gear. The Winter Olympics look mighty cold and each athlete is wearing layers and bundled up. It is a great time for parents to point out to kids that most of the athletes are wearing bright clothing- just like they should be in the cold weather! Lastly, point out to your kids how each athlete is wearing the right equipment to protect themselves- helmets, knee pads, shoulder pads and goggles!
- Sportsmanship. Yes, of course it would be nice for the athletes to bring home a medal for their country. However, not everyone can be a winner! It is important for children to learn how they can compete like winners and still treat their fellow athletes with respect. Help kids notice when the competitors shake hands with the other athletes and show respect to the officials and others. Kids learn the basics of sportsmanship from the adults in their lives, especially their parents and coaches – so be sure to set an example!
- Diversity and acceptance- Today, more than ever, we all interact with people of differing ethnicities, religions, and cultures. The Olympics is a great opportunity to help kids become interested in learning about others and their cultures. Consider making a game out of it by sharing fun facts about competing countries and the athlete’s cultural practices. Encourage your kids to ask questions and use this as a starting point for conversations on other cultures and the importance of learning about others without judgment.
- The importance of rest- Even though it is not something we want to see, athletes will get hurt during the Winter Olympics. Use this as an opportunity to talk to your child about the importance of rest after a sports injury. “Athletes always want to get right back into their sport,” says Dr. Scott. “However it is important for all athletes, especially kids, to allow time to heal properly before returning in order to perform at their best.”
- The right fuel- The Olympic athletes, of course, eat very differently than the average person but this is a great opportunity to talk about the importance of exercise and a healthy diet with your kids. Explain to your child that as they continue to grow they need to take care of their bodies if they want to perform like champions both in school and in sports. Consider using the Olympics as a time to start a family challenge to drink more water as a first step to a healthier lifestyle.
- Hard work and dedication. Explain to your child that the Olympians found their passion; they have worked hard - putting their heart, soul and a whole lot of sweat into their sport. Remind your child of the importance of staying focused, concentrating, working hard and ultimately trying their best!
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