Teachable moments from the Olympics


Olympians such as Julia Mancuso are providing lots of teachable moments for parents. (Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

For about two weeks, the DVR in our house will get a rest while we devote our kids’ screen time allotment to the Winter Olympics. I couldn’t be happier about this. Not just because sports are fun and they get to cheer on Team USA, but because I’m finding tons of valuable life lessons crammed between commercial breaks. For example:

* Even the people who are the best in the world at what they do don’t get it right every single time. See Miller, Bode.

* When you stumble, get back up and keep going. The Czech Republic’s Sarka Pancochova fell in the women’s slopestyle snowboarding competition on Sunday, cracking her helmet. But she got up and made her way to the bottom of the hill on her own.

* Women are incredibly strong and can do amazing things. Things that don’t require makeup, extensive time getting their hair done, or an airbrushed body. Pretty much the exact same things that men are doing. For example: Julia Mancuso.

* Smile when you win, and hug your competitors. Smile when you lose, and hug your competitors. Just ask the women’s slopestyle snowboarders.

* Family is everything. Canada’s Alex Bilodeau says his brother Frederic, who has cerebral palsy, is his biggest motivation. Frederic was at the finish line when Alex won gold in the men’s moguls in Vancouver in 2010, and again in Sochi.

I don’t know if these lessons are registering in the moment. When we turned off the television last night, there was no deep discussion of what it takes to keep getting up and doing your best, even after repeated falls or mistakes. My kids were too busy racing around, jumping and landing with a flourish, pretending to be mogul skiers. There was even a phenomenal booty-shake victory dance. That’s fine.

But hopefully, somewhere in their brains, these nuggets of wisdom are buried, ready the next time they make a mistake on the soccer field or a test.

Mari-Jane Williams covers parenting and family issues for Local Living and schools for the Prince William and Loudoun Extras.
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