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As you follow the Olympics, watching your favorite events with youth athletes you are coaching and/or parenting, you will encounter many teachable moments. Here is advice on what to look for and how to use those teachable moments to develop Better Athletes, Better People from Tina Syer (@TinaPCA), PCA’s Chief Impact Officer, who is also a youth sports coach and parent.

Parents and coaches reflect on the below:

  • “Ask rather than tell.”
  • Identify both positive and negative life lessons.
  • Find examples of Olympians thanking officials.
  • Notice when Olympians pick up their teammates and/or opponents.

On the more positive side, we often see Olympians thanking the officials after a competition. Beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh Jennings is particularly good at this, and it can be a wonderful example for our kids – to remind them to thank sports officials, yes – but also to take that practice more widely into their lives by thanking people who often go under-appreciated, such as food servers, janitors, bus drivers, teachers, coaches and more. We also see Olympians picking up their teammates (and perhaps even an opponent) after a loss or disappointing performance. Talk with your kids about times when their classmates, friends and/or teammates are down and what they can specifically do to pick them up – this might be in the middle of a performance or just after it’s over. Life lessons also are available from the coverage of Olympians attending events other than their own, when cameras often find them cheering in the stands. These athletes are supporting their Olympic teammates (even outside their own sport), which can plant the seed for your kids to support their friends or classmates at others sports events, or music/drama performances, etc.

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