Four years ago, my young teen daughter and her friends landed in my living room to watch Michael Phelps swim to victory. The excitement of watching that competition fired up our entire neighborhood swim team. That year we had more kids registered than we have had in our history. Not only that, if you fast forward, you may be able to connect a thin line between Phelps success and the swimming scholarship offered to my daughter's best friend.
Watching athletes on TV can plant a seed in an impressionable young mind. The dream of competing in the Olympics may never come to pass, but the dream is not without benefits.
Normally I am against watching a lot of television, but the Olympics gets a free pass. These super athletes from around the world have valuable lessons to teach my family and for that I am grateful. Aside from swimming, we enjoy gymnastics, track and field and have been known to tape soccer matches. We also devour the biographies of these athletes.
The inspiring stories of how the athletes made it to the Olympic competition are worth reading. Do a little research before watching the competition. It will make the experience that much better. Hearing the stories can also inspire your kids to set high goals and dream big dreams.
Recognize hard work
Elite athletes did not have success handed to them. Talk about the discipline and training they had to endure to get where they are. Many of the athlete's stories include multiple failures and rough beginnings. It takes more than self-confidence to keep trying. The passion and drive these athletes possess can encourage a struggling, awkward middle school child, or middle aged mom!
Transfer the power
There is a great deal to learn from the single mindedness of these athletes. They cannot afford to be distracted, and really, neither can any of us. Capture the inspiration of the Olympic Games and let the passion transfer to your daily life. Talk about goals with your children and consider what would happen if everyone gave the pursuit the same determined focus.
Aside from inspiring our kids, you can also use the competitions to interject a little geography lesson here and there. Point out the countries on a map; discuss the flags, languages and other details as appropriate.
However you approach the competitions, know that watching the Olympics is not wasted time.
More by Sylvie Branch: