Source: Sherman Publications

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It's all about the kids: a column by Dr. Janet McPeek
Keeping the spirit of the Olympics alive

September 19, 2012

Millions of people tuned in to this year's Summer Olympics in London to witness the incredible talents of the world's best young athletes.

Your family can keep the Olympics spirit alive throughout the year by encouraging fair competition and practicing good sportsmanship.

Numerous lessons emerged from the Olympics that can be transferred to everyday living.

The games showcased how competition can be peaceful and respectful, instead of negative and mean-spirited.

In fact, competition can be fun, whether it's taking place at a major international event like the Olympics or in a school gym or at the local park.

Diversity is a key component of the Olympics — bringing together people representing a variety of races, religions, and politics. Teach your children that good sportsmanship includes treating everyone with respect — coaches, teammates, opponents and officials — regardless of their nationalities and religions.

Not only will your children broaden their circle of friends, but they can also learn about other cultures.

The Olympics also illustrate the importance of having people in your corner.

None of the athletes got to the games on their own. They could not do it alone.

Support from coaches, family, teammates and sponsors all play a huge role in the athletes' success.

Many families make huge sacrifices to get to the Olympics, including raising money for the trip or moving to the practice center's city.

It's important for parents to support their children's dreams.

After watching the Summer Olympics, it's likely that kids all over the world became interested in taking gymnastics or learning to dive or becoming a sprinter.

The reality is that hundreds of thousands of their peers may excel at sports, but only a select group will make it to the Olympics.

However, you shouldn't discourage your children from participating in sports — even if they aren't great at it in the beginning.

Their hours of training and competitive spirit can be applied to other activities.

For example, children who run track can participate in charitable marathons to raise money for a good cause.

Others can have fun playing on intramural teams. It will give children a sense of accomplishment, plus they can enjoy the fun of the sport.

We all know that winning feels great.

The top athletes in the Olympics stood proudly at the winners' podium, adorned in gold, silver or bronze.

Chances are it took a lot of self-discipline to reach that shining moment. Competition is about challenging and pushing oneself.

The real winners are those who pick themselves up and dust themselves off after failure and keep on trying.

The Olympics are a great example of what can be achieved through persistence and dedication.