by Bec Cavalôt

7 life lessons the Olympics can teach our sons

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The Olympic Games are about so much more than medal tallies and green-and-gold spandex. Here are 7 life lessons the Olympics can teach our sons (they’re all good reminders for us grown-ups too).

1. Dedication
It’s important to remind our sons that the elite athletes they see on screen weren’t born Olympians. Most started training in their chosen sport when they were very young. They accomplish their goals because they dedicate hours and hours over years and years to training and practice.

2. Perseverance in the face of adversity
Injury, physical and mental illness, media criticism. Many Olympians have faced adversity during their careers. What puts them among the world’s greatest athletes is perseverance. When they fall, they get back up. They never throw in the towel when the going gets tough. Our boys need to understand that life is full of obstacles – no one has an easy ride all of the time. Learning to persist when faced with unexpected obstacles is the key to achieving his goals.

3. Empathy
Winning feels great, and most of our boys will have experienced that thrill themselves, so they can identify with the athletes wearing their medals proudly. But for every medal winner, there are dozens of athletes who don’t make the podium. Talk to your son about how he thinks the losing athletes might feel. This not only helps him develop empathy, but also reinforces the idea that winning isn’t everything.

4. Sportsmanship
Not every Olympic athlete is graceful in defeat, but most are. This is because every top athlete has experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Point out winners and losers who cheer on, celebrate and show appreciation for their fellow competitors. Sportsmanship shows a person’s character and these moments help our boys learn how to both win and lose with grace.

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5. Teamwork
Many of the Olympic sports are team sports. Even competitors who are involved in individual sports have a whole team of people behind them that are helping make their Olympic dream a reality. Point out how everyone’s contribution is key to a team’s or an individual’s success and explain that the power of teamwork can be applied to everything from a school project to this weekend’s Auskick match.

6. Excellence
Excellence is one of the core values around which the Olympic movement is constructed. Olympians strive to put their best effort into each practice and competition. They aim to do their personal best, no matter what circumstances or other competitors they may be facing at the time. Explain to your son that although he won’t always be at the top of the podium, he’s a winner as long as he’s tried his best.

7. Diversity
The Olympics gives our boys an insight into the big wide world outside his own community, or even country. From identifying country flags to watching cultural traditions play out, the Olympics offer the perfect opportunity to talk to your son about cultural and economic diversity.

At their core, the Olympic Games bind us together and teach us all to be our very best selves. Although not everyone should don the spandex, every one of us can channel our inner Olympian and learn lessons that are worth their weight in gold.

Brought to you by Brighton Grammar School

Bec Cavalôt is a Melbourne-based writer, editor and mother of two boys. This article is about

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