What were you up to ten years ago?

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Laguna Beach in 2010.

I cannot get my head around the fact that the decade is ending. What a decade it was! Our family had a ton of milestones like high school and college graduations, my husband changed companies and we lost our loving dog Angus. I’ve been using Facebook for more than a decade and it’s interesting to look back to see what we doing in 2010, ten fast years ago.

Here are some of our highlights from 2010:

I started a new career in 2010 as a financial advisor working with my husband. I went to Orange County and took a five-day class to prepare for the Series 7 and 66 from Tina–the same instructor my husband had a million years earlier. Nowadays, the classes are online instead of in person! I passed the tests. I wrote on FB that Robert finished filling out his college applications with three hours to spare! He went to Boy’s State on the same day Kat went to the Kevin Perry Meet in Fullerton. Our days were spent around the pool cheering for Kat as she got her first Junior Olympic medal for an individual event and qualified for higher level meets. We spent the summer in Laguna beach hunting for sea glass and had the team over after Junior Olympics relay day. Reading through my old posts, we seemed super busy and happy.

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One day’s catch of sea glass.

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Robert and friend Lynette during the Physics’ boat races in their cardboard boat. Lynette’s getting married in 2020!

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Kat with her first individual medal at JOs. 

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Girls’ team t-shirt painting party in our backyard.

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Swim Festival in the old Long Beach Pool.

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My nephew’s wedding.

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Angus. I miss this good dog.

What were you up to in 2010? What were some of your highlights?

 

 

 

 

 

Great Tips for Kids in Sports–and Parents

IMG_3931I read some great tips for sports parents on a website called Chicago Health. In an article called Healthy Sports Parenting Starts with These Tips, author Jeanette Hurt offered helpful information that I wish I had known when my kids were young–especially the tips about overuse injuries and health. As a parent, I thought swimming and exercise is healthy and I didn’t anticipate there could be a downside to athletics.

From the article:

Coach and author Sharkie Zartman remembers coaching at a youth volleyball tournament and observing a match between two very good teams of 10-year-olds when the parents started behaving badly.

“It was just a battle, going back and forth,” she says. “After it was over, the parents were still yelling at the coaches, officials and other parents. Meanwhile, the kids from both teams went outside to play some kind of circle game, and they were all laughing and having fun. I was thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, who are the grownups, and who are the kids?’”

As numerous memes on social media suggest, badly behaving sports parents are not uncommon. In an effort to foster healthier sports parenting, Zartman teamed up with Robert Weil, DPM, a sports podiatrist based in Aurora, to write #HeySportsParents: An Essential Guide for any Parent with a Child in Sports.

It’s important for parents to stay calm and be supportive while helping their kids navigate the perks and pitfalls of youth sports, the authors say.

Zartman says many parents look at sports with a competitive mindset, while their kids just want to enjoy themselves. “Kids play sports because they’re fun, and they want to be with their friends,” she says. “But what do most parents focus on? Winning, getting the trophies or dreaming of scholarships.”

I have the Zartman and Weil book on my shelf and it’s definitely worth a read. They each write a section from their perspectives and then have sports parents share their stories as well.

kat groupThere is a lot more to learn in the article including what happens when parents bribe their kids for performance and abusive coaches. Following is the list of tips I found so helpful. You can read the rest of the article here.

Tips for sports parents

Follow these tips for a healthier approach to sports for parents and their children.

  • Check safe sport guidelines. Guidelines should be available through the individual sport’s governing body or through the U.S. Center for SafeSport. Parents can also look to uscenterforsafesport.org to report concerns and to find more information.

  • Avoid overuse injuries. Too much pressure from year-round training can lead to physical harm, such as overuse injuries. Plus, sports carry the risk of concussions. Practice safely.

  • Keep an eye out for burnout. Many kids drop out of sports by age 13, Conviser says. “They leave if there’s injury or too much stress and strain on their bodies, their families, their well-being or finances. The more hours per week a sport requires usually means that there’s a greater likelihood of early burnout.”

  • Watch for signs of disordered eating. Some sports, especially gymnastics and wrestling, put children at risk for eating disorders. “Parents need to be aware of the pressures facing their kids, whether it’s peer pressure or pressure from their coaches,” Breslow says.

  • If injured, see a doctor. If the injury doesn’t respond to rest, ice and over-the-counter medicine, it should be checked out, especially if there is continued pain, excessive swelling or other persistent symptoms, Breslow says. “If you miss an injury early on, sometimes a simple situation becomes very complex,” he warns.

  • Consider going to an orthopedic clinic. If parents suspect that their child has an orthopedic injury to the bones or joints, Breslow recommends taking them to a walk-in orthopedic clinic, where they can be immediately evaluated by a specialist and get the right type of imaging, bracing or other therapy.

  • Be prepared. Parents should make sure their children wear the right footwear, get enough sleep and consume a balanced diet.

  • Stay hydrated. “A lot of times, kids aren’t drinking enough, especially in [cool] weather, because they don’t know they’re sweating as much,” Breslow says.

  • Learn to stretch well. Many athletes emphasize strength instead of flexibility, Breslow says. But stretching warm-ups are important. “A significant number of injuries occur because of a lack of flexibility,” he says.

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What other tips do you have for sports parents and student-athletes?

Are parents to blame for angst and anxiety?

randk 3I watched a video posted on Facebook by one of my children’s former swim coaches about millennials in the workforce and the problems they face. It really made me reflect about my own parenting and kids. There’s an increased number of kids in this age group with depression, committing suicide and overdosing. That’s terrifying, don’t you agree? What can be done about it? And why is it happening?

You can watch the aforementioned video here

Here are the four main points of the video:

ONE
Bad Parenting

I hate that bullet point and know I’m guilty of some bad parenting myself. The main idea is that our kids were told they are special at every turn, whether it’s deserved or not. Consequently, millennials often suffer from low self esteem. While we’re trying to make our kids strong, mentally and physically, we’re doing something very wrong. We have highly educated, competent kids who don’t believe in themselves. Maybe everyone shouldn’t get a participation trophy in tee ball. It’s one of the reasons why I like swimming. Every mili-second dropped and ribbon received is truly earned. The clock doesn’t lie.

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We were unplugged as a family every summer at the beach. 

TWO
Technology

Checking our number of likes, texts, etc. give us a jolt of dopamine. That’s why we get addicted to our phones. Social media and cell phones are not much different than other highly addictive substances like tobacco or alcohol. When teenage brains are exposed to dopamine, they get hooked and their brains get hardwired. Hearing this part of the video makes me want to look at my own cell phone usage and make some changes—a good thing to think about for New Year’s Resolutions (I’ll write more about this later). Social media is preventing our kids from developing personal relationships and may lead to depression and being unable to handle stress.

THREE
Instant Gratification

Our kids have grown up in the world of instant gratification. If they want to watch a movie, they turn on Netflix. If they want to buy something, they click on Amazon and it’s delivered the next day. I interviewed a psychologist and wrote about instant gratification here. Job satisfaction and relationships aren’t a click away. Instead they are messy and time consuming, but our kids aren’t learning these skills of waiting and working for things.

FOUR
Environment

Maybe our corporate environments aren’t a good fit for young people. Our kids blame themselves when it could partially be the fault of the company they work for. Companies need to work extra hard to build the children’s social skills and work on their lack of confidence. We need to work on interpersonal relationships and one good way to start is to put the phone down.

What are your thoughts about millennials and their angst? Do you think it’s our fault they are suffering from depression and anxiety? Or, does the environment and technology play a bigger role?

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Selfie of Mom and me playing BINGO. She is the best mom and my role model. 

What can parents do about tears in youth sports?

kat groupI’ve witnessed my fair share of crazy parents on the pool deck. I watched one parent yell at their child after a race and hold up her iPad, “Do you want to know why you swim so slow? Well I’ll show you right here!”

I heard one mom yell at her daughter, “We’re leaving the meet if you continue to swim like cr*p.” After her next race was over, she pulled her out of the meet.

When my daughter was at her first Summer Junior Olympics she was scared to death for her first swim. She was afraid she’d come in last place. And guess what? She did. What did I do? I ran up to her afterwards and said, “What happened?!”

I read some helpful tips in Sports Parents, We Have a Problem: Crying after sports is not healthy for child development by Jim Taylor Ph.D. for Psychology Today. Read the entire article here.

Like I said, sports parents, we have a problem. Want to know the problem? Well, look in the mirror. I don’t mean to insult you by indicting you as being the problem as an individual parent. I don’t know you or how you are with your children in their sports lives. I’m talking about the many sports parents who have been both seduced by and abet the toxic youth sports culture in which your children are now immersed. You know, the one in which results are all that matter for parents and children alike, even at a young age. And let me be clear: many children are suffering for it athletically and personally.

I am writing this article based on a disturbing experience that made this problem so glaringly evident to me. My painful epiphany occurred while attending a regional championship in a sport in which my younger daughter was competing.

Here is what I saw:

  • A father telling her daughter before the competition, “I know you’re going to win today.”
  • Parents coaching their children before their events.
  • At least a dozen kids in tears after their events.
  • Parents in the finish area talking to their children about their result immediately after they finished.
  • A boy who was lying face-down on the floor of the clubhouse in tears while his father had his earbuds in and was looking at his phone.
  • A father trying to console his sobbing daughter after her event. When a teammate approached, patted her on the back, and said “It’s OK,” the father asked her how she did. When the teammate said, reluctantly, that she won, the father high-fived and congratulated her with tremendous enthusiasm … all the while his daughter lay below him disconsolate.
  • A mother who is a friend of mine told me that her son didn’t want her to watch his events because it makes him too nervous.
  • A father I also know said that his daughter was in tears and vomited before her first event because she was so anxious and she was too upset to compete in her second event.

Why were these young athletes so unhappy to the point of tears in sports that are supposed to be such fun? And keep in mind that these were kids younger than 12 years old, most of whom won’t even be competing in a few years because of their interest in pursuing other activities. I didn’t, of course, interview each one of the tearful young athletes. At the same time, I have seen variations of these kinds of reactions in my consulting practice for decades.

If you dig down one layer to examine the causes of such painful reactions in young athletes, you’ll find expectations and pressure, primarily from parents, but also from peers (by way of comparison rather than ill intent) and our intense youth-sport culture. The weight of expectations is a crushing burden on the shoulders of young athletes. Imagine your children having to put on a 50-pound weight vest when they enter the field of play and you’ll get a sense of what they feel and how it will make them perform.

If you dig down to the very heart of these reactions, you will find a fear of failure—specifically, that if these kids don’t perform well, they perceive that something really bad will happen (however objectively untrue it may be). Based on considerable research and my own work with young athletes, the most common causes of fear of failure include:

  • Disappointing my parents (and, by extension, my parents won’t love me)
  • Being rejected by my peers
  • Ending my sports dreams
  • It will all have been a waste of time
  • Failure in sports means I’m a failure

These beliefs produce in children a threat reaction that causes powerful internal changes including:

  • Psychological (e.g., negativity, doubt, worry)
  • Emotional (e.g., fear, anxiety, stress)
  • Physical (e.g., muscle tension, racing heart, choppy breathing, too much adrenaline)
  • Behavioral (e.g., self-sabotage, avoidance)
  • Performance (e.g., tight, tentative performances)

With this reaction, not only are kids pretty much guaranteed of not performing their best, but sports simply becomes a truly aversive experience.

Let me be clear that this problem isn’t even a sports problem. Rather, it’s a problem that permeates our results-obsessed achievement culture that you find in school, the arts, chess, anywhere in which kids can aspire to great success and where parents can become overly invested.

Now here is where I’m going to go on a rant, so be prepared. Mostly, importantly, my rant starts with a question: As a sports parent, do you want to be part of the problem or part of the solution? (This should be a rhetorical question.)

Here’s a simple reality: Kids under 12 years old shouldn’t be crying after they compete (in fact, no kids should be)! What so many parents and young athletes don’t realize is that results at such a young age (even up to 16 years old) just don’t matter. Sure, it’s great for young athletes’ efforts to be rewarded with good results. And it’s gratifying for kids to get attention for their successes.

Speaking of crying, I remember several times when my kids cried at meets. I wish I would have had the common sense to see that it was not a healthy place to be. My daughter cried after competing for the last coveted spot on a 10 and under JO relay team. The coach had them compete at last ditch, and the fastest that day would make the relay. There were four or five fast young girls competing against each other. Afterwards, my daughter was crying in the warm down pool for an hour.

My son was upset after a race at the Claremont pool and threw himself down on the deck and cried. I was beyond knowing what to do. Another mom was very sympathetic and I remember her trying to talk to him. He ended up walking off the deck and disappearing. I didn’t know where he went and I was frantic. He obviously wasn’t enjoying swimming or competing then and needed space. But we were insisting that he stick with it.

With those horrible memories, I’m thankful they weren’t the norm, but were exceptions. Most of the time my kids were smiling, laughing, hanging out with their friends under pop-up tents and not that concerned with how they swam. It was all about the fun. IMG_5008

Here are the tips the author has for sports parents:

We can’t change the sports culture. So, it’s up to us parents to shape our family’s sports culture and do the right thing for our young athletes. During this holiday season (and beyond!), give your children the gift that keeps on giving: your love and none of the crap.

Here are a few concrete suggestions (and I realize how tough they are to enact, but I can assure you that I’m walking the walk on every one of these with my two athlete daughters):

  • Remind yourself why your kids compete in sports (and it has nothing to do with results).
  • Be happy and have fun at competitions. If you are, your children most likely will too.
  • If you can’t control your emotions at competitions, don’t go.
  • Before competitions, if you find that you are stressed, worried, or anxious, stay away from your kids.
  • Before competitions, don’t try to motivate or coach them; nothing you say will help, but a lot you say can hurt.
  • Before every competition event, smile and say “I love you.”
  • After every competition, smile and say “I love you. Do you want a snack?”
  • After competitions, if you find yourself frustrated, angry, or otherwise upset, stay away from your kid till you’ve calmed down.
  • Here’s the toughest one: Never, ever talk about results! I know this sounds impossible, but it can be done (though it takes tremendous willpower). If your children bring up results, just say, “Results don’t matter now. What matters is that you gave your best effort and had fun.”

33944149_10156550450214612_1114497597600432128_oWhat are your suggestions for when kids cry at meets or competitions?

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Humility: Is It Overlooked in Athletics?

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My daughter with teammates.

Yesterday I wrote an article about the amazing role models our children have in the world of swimming for SwimSwam.com. I was pointing out three greats as examples: Michael Phelps, Kaitlin Sandeno and Ryan Lochte. Yes, Ryan Lochte.

For non swimming fans, Lochte did something amazing this past week. His suspension ended a few days ago and he won a gold medal at the US Nationals in Stanford on Sunday. He turned 35 years old the day before. He was racing kids who were 17 and 19 years old! And he won decidedly. Talk about a role model. He didn’t give up despite really screwing up and blowing it at Rio and beyond. Instead he got his life back on track and trained. He got married, has two beautiful babies and entered rehab. He showed a sense of humility and gratitude after winning the gold medal that quite frankly was missing in his youth. Here’s the video of him winning the 200 IM.

As far as Michael Phelps, I was honored to hear him speak a few years ago. He told a story of his bouts with depression and substance abuse and said at one time he no longer wanted to live. He’s refocused his life and is making a difference in the charities he volunteers for as well as being a father and husband.

I am reading “Golden Glow: How Katilin Sandeno Achieved Gold in the Pool and in Life” and she is truly inspirational as well. She was a 17-year-old phenom who earned a spot on the Olympic Team in 2000 and 2004. Through her stellar career, she faced many hardships including undiagnosed asthma, a fractured back, shoulder issues and weight gain in college. Through it all she was humble, inspiring and a joy to be around. I highly recommend the book for parents and kids! For many years, she’s dedicated time as spokesperson for the Jessie Rees Foundation, named in honor of Jessie who died from inoperable brain tumors. Sandeno visits hospitals and connects with kids fighting cancer and brings them “Joy Jars.”

What incredible role models these three are, and they all show humility. Of course there are many more in the world of swimming, too.

I found an article called “Humility in Sports–Why Does It Matter?” by Malcom Shaw, a soccer player. He has some good stuff in his article. I feel like humility doesn’t get as much attention as other traits of successful athletes like talent or hard work. Yet, it’s just as important. Here’s an excerpt:

Humility is one of the most respectable and admirable traits that an athlete can possess. The prime essence of a humble athlete is the act of selflessness and modesty which transcends to the world. Oftentimes in the realm of sports we witness many accounts of prideful behavior, whether it be on or off the playing field. Being a competitive athlete myself, I’ve watched and observed professional athletes of the highest caliber. As much as I would gravitate to their individual skills and talents, I would even more so be observant of their character and demeanor.

When athletes talk about humility and comprehensively act on it (Principle 2), they set a precedent for fostering good character.

Below are a few ways humility is exemplified and embodied in an athlete. 

Modesty

A modest athlete is one who handles character gracefully on and off the field. An individual who doesn’t excessively floss their achievements goes far in character cultivation. When they are in the spotlight, they carry themselves in a way that draws limited attention (even when there is). Modesty in a successful athlete is a trait noticed and respected by many.

Leads by example

Leading by example can come in many forms. Whether on or off the field, leadership is noticed everywhere. Being the hardest and most consistent worker, or being the only one to help clean up equipment after practice are all ways leadership is exemplified . Leadership in the world of sports is not prideful, but it looks to inspire and better others.

Lifts those around them

Athletes who embody humility take responsibility for their actions, especially when things don’t go well. In a team sport setting, there are usually situations where blame shifting occurs. Examples of blame shifting can be things such as, “We lost because of you” or “Your mistake costed us the game.” In situations like these it takes someone with humility to diffuse the problem by sharing some of the responsibility. 

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Team cheer on the college swim team.

What are your thoughts about humility in today’s society?

If I Could Have a “Do-Over”

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My young Piranhas.

If I could go back in time, say 15 or so years, I’d do things differently as a parent and a swim mom. I’ve loved every minute of being a swim parent and truly believe that signing my kids up for our local club, the Piranha Swim Team, was the single best thing we’ve done for them. Sticking with the team through ups and downs was a plus, too. Not only did my kids become crazily physically fit and skilled swimmers, they learned to never give up through tough times—whether it was an illness, a plateau or learning what a new coach expects.

So what would I do differently? Here’s my list:

One
Not focus on performance.

Sometimes, I get way too caught up in big meets and best times. I wish I could kick back, relax and enjoy the little moments more.

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Medals at a meet.

Two
Not get involved in parent drama.

Like most sports today, where you find a bunch of enthusiastic and involved parents, there’s bound to be some drama. If I could do it over, I’d never take sides or get involved. At times, I didn’t have a choice because of being on the board. But, the drama and problems we lived through don’t amount to beans, anymore.

Three
Realize everybody is different.

Not every swimmer has the same drive or goals. Not every family is going to focus their lives around the pool. It’s okay for some kids to skip practice and have other interests besides school and swimming. I’d be less judgmental if I got a do over!

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Signing day.

Four
Not compare my kids to others.

When my kids were young and new to swimming, it was common for us to compare their progress to other swimmers. That led to upset feelings all around. Looking back on it, things that seemed so big at the moment, were only a fleeting moment in time.

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My son learning to dive with the swim team.

Five
Enjoy every moment of the process.

The years go by so quickly. The friends made with other parents, coaches and officials are ones to treasure. Enjoy it all.

What would you do differently as a swim parent?

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Back when my daughter liked her green fuzzy robe better than the team parka.

Looking Forward to Our First Regatta

IMG_0292My son took up rowing a while ago. He rows with the East Bay Rowing Club and enjoys it immensely. He recently had his first “regatta” which is what they call a meet in rowing lingo. After years and years as a swim mom, I am learning a whole new language that goes with a new sport.

We really wanted to come watch his first regatta in the Bay Area, but he was adamant that we not come and cheer him on.

He has a regatta coming up in So Cal and I asked again if we could come. It’s only a short drive for us.

“Oy vey!” was his answer followed by “I guess so.”

“Really? It’s okay? We get to watch?” I asked.

“Oy vey,” followed with a groan. “But you aren’t allowed to cheer OR talk to anybody!”

I’m laughing so hard. What does he think we’ll do? Run along the beach yelling and cheering for him? I guess that is a distinct possibility. After all that’s what we did at my daughter’s open water swims. He’s on a team of all adults, it’s not a child’s sport. My bet is that we will be the only parents there! I guess that’s kind of embarrassing in itself.robert

Will there ever be a day where our kids won’t be embarrassed of us?