The London Olympics has seen sporting fever take hold across the UK. Parents and educators are being encouraged to do more to get their kids involved in sport, but will this lead to a new wave of pushy parents keen to shape their toddler into the next Bradley Wiggins or Lizzie Armistead?
Of course, the extremes to which some teams go in search for the next big thing will make many parents cringe. A glance at the photos of Chinese kids being trained using severe stretching techniques already makes me have second thoughts about putting Jack into gymnastic classes.
That said, we’re unlikely to see Olympic fever see British coaches reverting to such extremes any time soon.
More worrying – in my view – is the lengths that some parents are willing to go to get their children to win.
I’m pretty lucky, Jack’s nursery sports day earlier this year was a very light-hearted affair. Kids barely understood the rules of the nursery-rhyme themed races, let alone being interested in trying to win.
But there are lots of stories about parents of barely older children getting really upset or even angry if their child doesn’t win. One in ten even actively encourage their children to cheat if that’s what it takes to win, if this research is anything to go by.
Personally, I think Jack would be horrified by the thought of cheating, such is the extreme of his moral compass at the moment.
While I wouldn’t condone cheating, I expect I’ll be cheering Jack on at his next sports day and hoping that he’ll win too. But I think I’d stop at insisting Jack practices for a running race, or take him for training sessions at the local park.
Are you a pushy parent? Will you be training your toddler for their first sports day?