I really love the Olympics. But, I will admit that the Olympic experience of my childhood was quite different from what we experience now. As a child, we had to watch the Olympics on the network television schedule. I remember setting aside time to watch the opening ceremonies and pouring over the newspaper to see when they were airing our favorite events. The only information I knew came from the commentary of news anchors and sports experts, giving us the play-by-play as these elite athletes performed.
Like everything else, the Olympics are now available via information overload. While the news anchors and event experts are still present, we also have an endless stream of commentary from our 24/7 access to news, social media, and Uncle Joe’s texted opinion on how that figure skater did. Enter parents, the filter that has to exist to help our kids absorb and understand the messages that are healthy, and reject the ones that aren’t.
If the summer Olympics taught us anything, it’s that there will probably be hurtful statements made about some athletes and overly glorifying statements made about others. In the midst of this, our children are listening. They are wondering if people judge them too. They are wondering if performance is what makes you valuable. They are paying attention to how we react when people “fail.” They are counting on us to help filter and translate the messages that will come through this incredible, world-encompassing event.
As we take in the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing this February, here are 20 questions that can help our kids learn, grow, and absorb positive lessons about grit, perseverance, and empathy.
20 Questions to Encourage Healthy Perspectives During the Olympics
- How much practice do you think it took that athlete to get to the Olympics?
- How do you think they stay calm and focused when they compete?
- What thoughts do they have about themselves if they don’t win?
- That athlete has had some injuries over the years. How do you think they kept going toward their goal?
- Do you like how that coach is treating their athlete? Why or why not?
- Is that athlete still important even if they don’t win?
- What do you think it is like for that athlete to be the only person from their country/of color in their event/speaking that language at the Olympics?
- What do you think it is like for these athletes when people criticize them on social media?
- What do you think these people will do when they are done being competitive athletes?
- How do you think these athletes can use their platform to be good leaders in their communities?
- When you are competing in something, how do you like for people to respond when you do well? When you don’t do as well as you wanted?
- Do you see any examples of good sportsmanship? What about poor sportsmanship?
- How do you think these athletes find ways to be good at their sport but also have friendships, rest, get an education, etc.?
- What positive message could an athlete tell themselves about being at the Olympics, regardless of whether or not they get a medal?
- How do you think that athlete’s family feels about them?
- Besides training, how do you think this athlete prepares to compete? (rest, eating nourishing food, sleep, etc.)
- How do you think these athletes define success?
- What challenges do you think these athletes have had to overcome to get to this point?
- How do you think these athletes kept going when it wasn’t “fun”?
- What have you learned about a different culture through watching the Olympics?
Of course, we don’t know any of the “right” answers for any of these elite athletes. But, we can gain a lot from listening to how our children answer the questions because they answer from the only perspective they know…their own. Listen for ways that our children think about themselves and others. Listen for the pressures they feel and the ways they cope. And, listen for the ways they struggle. All of these questions are aimed at giving you information about how your child thinks about hard work, perseverance, empathy, and the value of themselves and other people. May your conversations be blessed as we continue to guide our children at every opportunity.