I taught my grandson to ski when he was four (he looks so happy about it).
Now that he’s nine and I’m glued in front of the screen watching the winding down scenes of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, this thought has crossed my mind: “Does the little shredder have what it takes to be a future Winter Olympic competitor?”
While it’s true that most parents [and grandparents] think their children are good at everything they do… how would one ever know if their child was that kind of good?
Well here’s what the experts tell us:
Children who start school as one of the oldest in their class are typically ahead physically and emotionally. Malcolm Gladwell devotes an entire section of his book, Outliers, to the success of those children who are born in the right month.
Families with super athletes typically produce more super athletes. If you’ve got none of that going on in your family tree look for early signs of quick co-ordination, an above-average physical frame, and a stellar family/child medical history.
If you have a child who is open to new experiences and is also a bundle of positivity you’ve got the right combination. Plus according to research from Loughborough University, if your young one can block out distractions too, then you may have a future Olympian.
All of this is key, when a child comes repeatedly comes in second or third (or no place at all). Instead of crying, sulking, or pouting, an emotionally mature child will think about how they can improve and then they get back to work.
Basically these children want to win more than anything else and that gives them the drive and determination to keep on working.
Having Fun Yet?
Even the most confident, hard working, emotionally mature children have bad days. These littlest athletes need to know that their performances do not define them. Inner satisfaction must come from the experiences, love, support, friendships, and not just a win.
Being competitive is important, but being determined to work harder, faster, and longer even when you’re not feeling good, takes a very special kind of child.
So how much should a parent push?
Parents should support and motivate their child when the going gets tough. If this parental pushing is a regular occurrence then the child does not have the competitive self-governing nature required to reach their Olympic dreams.
Major Money Investment
Experts say that raising an Olympian is an extremely pricey proposition, especially when measured over the period of years it takes to get to and then compete at the games. Think of it as a six-figure “investment” – with no guarantee of a “return” (meaning a medal or an endorsement deal). Ouch! Source: MarketWatch.com
Think this through: commitment to rigorous training schedules; coach demands; all of that shuttling back and forth to practice, alternative schooling; the sheer number of hours of practice required which is typically five to seven hours a day; and the fact that other siblings may be feel left out.
Quick. What’s your commitment level now?
There is an upside to the pursuit of athletic excellence – whether it is Olympic in nature or not. Children learn about being goal-oriented; they can learn about commitment; and fighting through disappointment and injuries. Additionally, children learn about teamwork, overcoming fears, and perseverance.
For our humble family, however, I think our little downhill racer will remain famous and fabulous in our eyes only and that’s worth a lot of gold to us!