If At First You Don’t Succeed…
The other morning as my kids and I tucked into breakfast (a stack of pancakes loaded with maple syrup) – the tv in the background showed near superhuman athletes doing their amazing thing (cue determination to get fit and give up those pancakes…). And with my curious little people asking all sorts of questions (why are they racing, why is he winning, why is she riding a horse, will they get a ‘blonde’ medal), I researched the games a little, gave them a very brief synopsis (Ancient Greece, chariot racing and all that) and also came across the Olympic and Paralympic values that we could teach our kids (and live by ourselves)…
What’s life without friends!? And this value goes beyond the little guys and gals your kiddos love to playdate with – it’s about seeing beyond differences of race, gender and everything else (actually – hopefully – something our expat kids are pretty good at given how wonderfully multicultural Dubai is). And it’s about working as a team, about the importance of others – about a pat on the back and a word of encouragement when it’s needed. About picking someone up when they fall and bigging them up when they deserve it.
No not in that very old-fashioned sense of the word (i.e I am your elder and you will respect me – we’ll leave that in the Victorian era) but more about fair play – again about understanding other cultures, understanding rules – about being a good sport! I’m always telling my kids to see life from different angles – to imagine how others are feeling and to behave accordingly – i.e how would you feel if mummy said she didn’t ever EVER want to be your friend again…(possibly delighted given how much they ‘definitely do NOT like me’ sometimes). Respect is really about being polite, about listening and about manners and knowing limits (shouting ‘I WANT IT NOW’ while stamping feet is not acceptable).
Give it your best kiddos, it’s not about the winning but about taking part and going for it! Now getting them to actually believe it is another story…good luck!
Quite possibly something I don’t need to teach my kids – I’ve never met 3 more determined people in my life! Until I ask them to do something they might not want to and suddenly putting their own shoes on is an impossibility. Cue the reward chart that promises treats to children who try hard and succeed – or at least give it their all. I’m reinforcing the message that hard work is always recognised and that if you don’t succeed the first time you should keep trying – and so far it isn’t really getting me anywhere and there are mammoth meltdowns if whatever they’re attempting doesn’t go their way – but then again that shows a determination to get it right – right?!
The stories and achievements of paralympic athletes are sometimes beyond believable. Share them with your kids – show them just how incredible a human being with determination and courage can be and ask them what they’d like to be when they grow up – encourage them to dream big! So what if my 3 year old daughter Violet wants to be a princess – it happened to Kate Middleton?!
My middle one Arthur, aged 4, recently broke his arm. All was well until he realised that his limb was about to be encased in plaster and merry hell broke loose – until I asked him to be brave just like his uncle Jim (an ex-army superhero with almost a god-like status in our home) and he calmed down and got cast up. We can’t underestimate our kiddo’s fears (my spider phobia is mega) but we can help them get through those big unknowns, praise them for courage and help them to stand up for themselves and others when they need to.
Boys are not better than girls, you don’t get extra helpings of pudding just because you’re the eldest and there are house rules that apply to everyone (yes, even daddy – no throwing balls indoors). Treat everyone fairly, be a nice person and all will be well.
Whatever life lessons you want to teach your littles mamas, the Olympics are a great way to do it!