by Kristin Kuiper, MSW, LMSW
Olympic fever has hit! Many people I’ve been talking to are enjoying the games, watching with friends and family, and even staying up so late into the night catching the gold medal rounds that there are plenty of yawns the next day. I think that it is amazing to watch athletes who have given so much of their time to develop the talent they have. Athletes in the games exemplify commitment, dedication, and perseverance.
Watching the Olympics can generate some great discussion opportunities with children, such as how effort can create more ability, how importance practice is when you love something, even when the talent is already there, how to win well or lose with grace. These conversation starters can give parents a way to introduce some value based concepts with their children that are not lecture based or reactive to a conflict, which can often make it difficult for the child to hear.
Olympians are the best of the best—winning a medal is not only an amazing personal lifetime accomplishment, but also signifies that an athlete is the best in the world at a particular sport. Children, specifically children in the “tween” years, can easily internalize this concept—thinking that unless they are the best of the best, there is not much that they can contribute. Even adults watching the games can have some of this reaction creep up inside. Our self talk is a good indicator if this is happening—“I’m not good at much” or “I’m so average, why do I even matter?” are examples of self talk that can result from watching the best of the best do what they do best, particularly if you struggle with depression.
Instead of comparisons, which tend to keep us from joy, focusing on our own opportunities for growth can be a more productive way of directing our energy. What personal goal might you have that you can take one step towards? What would that first step be? Who or what might encourage you to take that first step?