Olympic athletes, dedicated parents and helping kids enjoy sports

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After three weeks of watching the world celebrate the achievements of the Olympic athletes, all I can think is: “Wow to all these dedicated parents who spend the time, effort and money required to set their kids on the path to this success.” Of course, being a successful athlete takes much more than just that, but the support of parents is a key starting point.

I say this because I watch parents around me take their kids to soccer, ski, piano and dance lessons  weekly, then increasing over the years to a daily commitment, all while unfazed by showing up to swimming practice at 5am or staying for hockey games at 11pm. Many parents also take up the sport’s cause, doing fundraisers, volunteering as coaches and organizers and bringing potlucks (and cheer) to team celebrations.

It can seem an easy path. When a child tries a sport and loves it, all the parents have to do is support their child’s passion. It’s been interesting to me to think about all the times where it hasn’t been so smooth – for all the accomplished athletes who didn’t immediately love the sport, but were helped by their parents to get through the initial hardships of learning.

So what is helpful encouragement vs harassing over-parenting when it comes to sports?  Here are 3 tips valuable tips that have helped my family.

1. I learned the answer from a parent on how she managed her child and this has hugely helped our family over the years:

Parenting tip: “When a kid wants to register for a sport, make it clear they have to complete the season and then decide if they want to stop”. (Click to tweet this tip)

2. This tip that has helped us comes from basketball’s great Michael Jordan:

Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game. (Click to tweet this tip)

3. Last but not least, it has been helpful to bring nannies into our family that were strong at the sports that we weren’t great at. They helped the kids practice and go to practices. Most importantly, they helped them learn to love the sport. Supplementing our own skills has been a great way to give our kids more options.

If you have other tips leave a comment. In the meantime, I want to salute all of these dedicated families that help produce adults who love sports, who learn dedication and hard work and, sometimes, even end up as Olympians proudly representing their countries and inspiring countless of kids to do sports and be active.

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, Mother of three, CEO myBestHelper

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