A Parent's Guide to Watching the Olympics with Kids
July 27, 2021
You probably remember being young and watching the Olympics at some point. Maybe you were sitting on the living room carpet or at a kitchen table, the TV on, breath held, eyes wide, engrossed in the drama unfolding in front of you.
Something about the Olympics has a way of bringing out that wide-eyed wonder in all of us. After a year like no other, we could all use a bit of wonder couldn’t we?
This year’s Tokyo Olympics are finally underway and despite a rocky build up, there’s no shortage of talent, drama, and wonder to fill our homes and imaginations for the next two weeks.
As a parent, this can be a wonderful chance to make intentional family screen time something much more. But how do you help your kids capture that special wonder? Fear not! Here at COSMO we’ve got you covered with our parent’s guide to watching the Olympics - and making it magical!
Olympics FAQs for Kids (and Adults)
Kids ask questions. A LOT of questions. And let’s be honest, the Olympics leave plenty of us adults asking questions too. To help give curious kids and adults a head start, we pulled together a list of questions and answers so you’re in the know!
> Why is it called the 2020 Olympics instead of the 2021? Even though the games were postponed due to COVID, the Olympic committee agreed to keep the name/brand consistent along with the originally scheduled year.
> When did the Olympics begin? The origins of the Olympics go all the way back as much as 3,000 years ago to Ancient Greece. However, in more modern times, the Olympics as we know them first launched in 1896.
> Who is the greatest Olympian ever (a.k.a the GOAT)? While many would say swimmer Michael Phelps is the best Olympic athlete of all time, it’s not such an easy answer. Thankfully someone has tried to help sort it out with this helpful list!
> What’s special about this Olympics? The short answer: LOTS. First of all, it’s the largest Olympics ever with over 330 different events spread across 41 sports. Second, this Olympics includes numerous brand new sports, including 3x3 basketball, skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing, and karate.
Here are a few different ways that you can connect with your children while you’re watching the Olympics together:
Look for Powerful Lessons
One of the most amazing things about sports is the moments of human emotion they evoke. You might remember the now-iconic images of roaring Miachel Phelps after winning his record 8th gold medal in the 2018 Beijing Olympics. Or the tears that fell from gymnast Kerri Strug’s face after completing amiraculous one-legged vault landing during the 1996 Olympics.
These moments are not only memorable but they are powerful moments for parents to help kids understand success and failure, winning and losing.
You won’t have to watch long for a chance to engage your kids with questions like:
> What does it mean to be a good winner?
> Why is not winning ok?
> Why is the most important thing to try your hardest?
> How can coaches help us learn?
Highlight Inspiring Young Role Models
If there’s one thing that modern Olympic broadcasting has nearly perfected, it’s storytelling. While some stars like gymnast Simone Biles will likely be familiar names, others will rise from general obscurity to true stardom in just a few days - thanks in large part to the incredible storytelling that takes place with each event.
Because of that, you won’t have to look far as a parent to find inspiring role models for your kids to learn about. But beyond some of the larger than life names, there are a few kid wonders competing this year that you and your kids should know:
> Sky Brown (Great Britain - Skateboarding): Age 13
> Kokona Hiraki (Japan - Skateboarding): Age 12
> Hend Zaza (Syria - Table Tennis): Age 12
Emphasize the Power of Staying Active
We love how kids truly believe they can do anything. As a kid, I can recall watching the Olympic track and field finals - the 400m dash - and feeling like I too could be an Olympian. Sure enough, later that afternoon I had two cones set up on opposite sides of the cul de sac and sprinting laps in between.
Different things may capture the imaginations of kids differently, but there’s no doubt that the Olympics are a perfect time to reinforce the importance of being active.
The reality is that every Olympic star was once a kid who loved being active. That’s something any little one can understand and it’s powerful when they draw the connection to what that can mean.
One simple way to help give that lesson a practical first step is by setting a goal your kid can track. Using a fitness tracker for kids like JrTrack2 can be a great way to set a family goal for steps each day and see who wins the gold in the family step Olympics!
Try Something New!
Since the summer Olympics only come around every four years there’s always something new to see! Why not take the opportunity and help your kids try or learn something new - better yet, why not do it together? Here are a few fun ideas to get you started:
> Watch a new sport like long jump and try setting it up in the backyard for the kids to try
> Challenge your kids to compete with you for the “gold” in their favorite outdoor activity
> Make up your own Olympic sport! Maybe get some water balloons, bikes, sidewalk chalk, or jump ropes involved