August 04, 2021
By Dr Kathy Weston
The word ‘confelicity’ came to my attention via Susie Dent on Twitter last week (follow her, she’s fab). The definition of “joy in someone’s else’s happiness” accurately reflects how I am routinely feeling whilst watching the Olympic Games.
Aside from the individual performances, the really heart-warming stuff has been witnessing family reactions ‘back home’ and the joy that whole communities have had in athletes’ accomplishments. It has been exciting and inspiring to see parents and carers witness their children reap the rewards of enormous toil over the years.
I have also felt that these games have demonstrated that children from all backgrounds have the capacity to succeed as elite athletes, as long as the passion is there and the community gets behind them. Bethany Shriever raised £50,000 from Crowdfunding to get to the Olympics and she’s now the proud recipient of a gold medal in BMX riding.
There is a role model for everyone in these games. Young people might be inspired by the strength of Emily Campbell, the first British female weightlifter to win an Olympic medal and Tamyra Mensah-Stock, the first Black woman to win wrestling gold, the power of Dina Asher-Smith, the fastest British woman in history, the tenacity of Charlotte Dujardin, Britain’s most decorated female Olympian, the resilience of Tom Daley (LGBT champion, knitting fan and all-round nice guy), the bravery of Simone Biles, the composure of Sky Brown, Britain’s youngest ever medal winner, or the raw talent and humility of gymnasts like the Gadirova twins or Sunisa Lee. For the rest of us, mere mortals, I have to say, if these games don’t inspire us to try something new or get off the sofa, nothing will!
In an effort to practise what I preach, I have decided to start a rounders team for local friends. It comes with the caveat that you have to feel pretty unfit, be unsure of the rules (but up for learning them) and have a sunny, forgiving disposition.
It will also be a ‘club’ that doesn’t demand any fancy forms to fill in or expect you to show up every week. One of my inspirations for starting this activity is the desire to enjoy sport. I really wanted to do something that could allow my children to see me in action trying my best and having fun.
Rather than me being the enthusiastic parent at the sidelines, they can take their turn to cheer me on or tell me off when I am not trying hard enough. They can also see how I handle myself when things go wrong, the team loses or I score a home run. Is that what it is called? Who knows…
When pupil becomes teacher, it can take the pressure off children and feel both empowering and liberating. Give it a go and see how your children react. You can apply the same to learning. Ask their advice or request that they coach you in a new skill that they have already mastered.
Go on, admit it, how many times over the past week, whilst watching the games, have you said to your kids, “I bet you could do that, if you really wanted to!” Well, maybe that is just me then.
For those of you who are genuinely interested in optimal ways of supporting your super sporty off-spring, my September webinars with hockey hero, Holly Cram, and sports nutritionist, Dan Richardson are must-attends! It is one thing nurturing children’s athletic talent, but we also need guidance on how to cultivate and look after their emotional resilience, mental health and physical wellbeing.
Aside from the Games, those of you who have been ‘out and about’ with the kids have been sending us top, tried and tested ideas! We have chosen to highlight one tip, from WW reader, Catherine from North London, who highly recommends Footgolf at Tudor Park, followed by strawberry picking at Parkside farm (ten minutes away). See: www.parksidefarmpyo.co.uk.
Are you a Tooled Up member?
We’ve been busily adding to the Tooled Up library over the last few weeks and making sure that our summer activity resources are regularly updated. Make sure that you take a look at our lists of Summer activities and Quirky Activities for Teens if you are running short on ideas for keeping everyone entertained. We’ve also added an important new resource on water safety and drowning prevention – a crucial read if you are off to the beach or pool (or even if you just have the paddling pool out at home). If you are about to go away, we also have packing lists to help both younger children and teens to get organised!
As well as our summer themed resources, we’ve recently interviewed Professor Tamsin Ford about emerging patterns in young people’s mental health post-pandemic and Dr Seonaid Anderson about childhood tics. We’ve also worked in conjunction with Dr Alison Cowan, GP Lead ‘Thrive Young Person’s Clinic’ and CAMHS GP Clinical Lead for Hertfordshire, to create a comprehensive list of support services that can help with any issues relating to mental health and wellbeing. Finally, if you are expanding your family, we also have a new tip sheet and booklist to help support siblings when a new baby arrives.