How to Use the Olympics to Get Your Kids Motivated

Filed under: Preschoolers, Big Kids, Tweens, Teens, Activities: Babies, Development/Milestones: Babies

The Olympics provide a great platform to get your kids moving and off the couch. My family loves to watch the figure skaters, hockey players, downhill skiers and snowboarders compete at the highest level for their country's pride and glory. My youngest daughter in particular is amazed by each figure skater's ability to explode into the air off one leg, complete a double or triple loop and land with grace and finesse. All of this is done at full speed and with the pressure of millions of people watching around the world. My son on the other hand is a hockey nut and loves watching the world's best battle their hearts out. But watching these elite athletes showcase their talent isn't all the Olympics have to offer -- kids can also learn some valuable lessons from Olympians about fitness and motivation.

Kids Love to Role Play

Many younger kids automatically get up off the couch and pretend to be the person they see on television. My son starts to run around with his mini hockey stick and pretends to shoot and score, while my daughter starts to jump and turn (and fall) over and over again. As parents, we can use this opportunity to sign our kids up or take them outside to try a new sport. We have their attention and motivation; so it's up to us to get them moving.

Use the Olympians as an Example of Excellence

My 5-year-old daughter has been reluctant to learn how to skate over the last couple of months. She's been doing well, but gives up too easily when she starts to fall. I took her the other day and reminded her of how amazing the figure skater's performed on television and how hard they had to work and practice to become the best. It's amazing how she finally started to move on her own around the rink. My son's situation was somewhat similar. As it's been cold out, if I left it up to him, he is content to stay in the house and watch television. As I remind him of the hard work and discipline the hockey players need to become so great, it makes it easier for me to get him out on the rink to practice skating.

Adopt a Daily Olympian Routine

In both cases, I reiterated to my kids the lifestyle habits (as they relate to my kids' lives) that Olympians adopt in their daily routine to become so great:

  • Exercise at least an hour a day to stay strong and fit.
  • Practice the skill over and over again until you've got it down. You know what they say -- practice makes perfect!
  • Eat nutritious foods and limit the amount of sugar and fried foods in their diet. It's never too early to start. My 6-year-old son always looks on the label for how many grams of protein and fat the product contains. Although he doesn't completely understand the benefits and pitfalls of these macronutrients, it's a step in the right direction.
  • Set short-term and long-term goals. This can be as simple as committing to practice their sport or skill three to five days a week for 30 to 45 minutes, or advancing to a higher level by next year.
  • Have a support team. As Olympians have coaches and teammates to keep them in line, your kids can use a friend or parent to help keep them motivated.
Reggie Reyes is a certified kinesiologist and personal trainer. He is the president and founder of pt4kids, a company that creates specialized training programs for kids all ages and fitness levels. Have a question about your child's health and fitness? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.