Michael Phelps. Missy Franklin. Ryan Lochte. These superb Olympic athletes have captured the attention and admiration of both adults and children. The difference is that adults understand full well the incredibly rare cocktail of talent, determination and drive that it takes to become an Olympian, much less ‘most decorated Olympian in history’ that Michael Phelps was just awarded. We know that it is a rare few people who will achieve this level and that for most of us, watching the elite perform is the closest we will ever get. A joy and inspiration in itself, but drastically different from being a participant.
Children, on the other hand, watch the performances and think, ‘I can do that…..what sport should I compete in during the next Olympics?’ They act out the competitions – at their local pool, using the sofa as gymnastics equipment and the front yard for the final soccer match or running track – their own Olympics, every bit as real and exciting to them as the real thing. As a parent you have a choice, burst their bubble or encourage them.
Whether your child is a non-swimmer, still flailing, or a talented competitive swimmer, take advantage of the buzz and excitement of the Olympics to encourage your child to spend more time in the water – not just regular, year-round swimming lessons, but also supervised play. Your child will not only become stronger, better coordinated for all sports (proven), and do better in school (also proven), but also safer as they understand how to act safely around water.
Olympians have one thing in common – someone who believes in them and has supported them as they have pursued their dream. Watch here for one of the best reminders I’ve seen of the importance of supporting a child’s dreams and enjoy watching the rest of the Games with your children!