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Let the Games (and Valuable Life Lessons) Begin!

August 16th, 2016     By Father Steven Boes, Boys Town National Executive Director

Family, Respect, Sports

The Summer Olympics are one of the greatest spectacles in sports. For two weeks, some of the best athletes in the world – men and women who have trained, practiced and sacrificed for years – come together to compete against each other and push themselves to the limit. There are unforgettable moments of endurance, triumph and failure, and high drama can unfold in even the most obscure events.

This is what makes the Olympics such a great teaching tool for parents. When you’re watching the competition with your kids, it’s a perfect time to point out to them the importance of being healthy and physically active, just like the athletes. Good physical health also can mean improved mental and spiritual health, and being involved in athletics and other team-oriented activities can build self-confidence and good character in youngsters.

Even the negative side of the Olympics can hold valuable lessons for children. There’s been a lot of controversy in the 2016 Olympics about some athletes who have used illegal drugs to enhance their performance. Some have been banned from competing as a result. You can use this opportunity to teach your child there are consequences for breaking the rules, and even the best athletes have to forfeit their opportunity to compete when they cheat.

Finally, use the Olympics as a reason to get outside and play with your kids. You can even organize your own “mini-Olympics,” complete with an opening ceremony and events you and your kids create together. Then invite other families in your neighborhood to participate and have fun.

At Boys Town, we teach the boys and girls in our care to “compete with character.” This means always showing good sportsmanship, respecting opponents, giving your best effort, winning with humility and losing with dignity. With the Summer Olympics as an inspiration, you can share these same valuable lessons with your kids, right in your own backyard.

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