Tags: Anxiety | aly | raisman | parent | anxiety | olympic

Aly Raisman's Parents' Olympic Anxiety Strikes Chord

(Copyright NBC News Twitter)

By    |   Tuesday, 09 August 2016 03:06 PM

Any parent who’s watched a child compete in an athletic event has felt the stress and anxiety that comes with the agony of defeat, to say nothing of the thrill of victory. But few parents have captured the public’s imagination as well as Lynn and Rick Raisman.

The pair became Internet sensations this week, as NBC television cameras captured their agonizing movements as they watched their daughter Aly Raisman compete in in the U.S. women’s gymnastic team’s qualifying round on Sunday.

The Raismans appeared to be riding an invisible rollercoaster as they leaned and squirmed in their seats with every twist and turn in their 22-year-old daughter's routine on the uneven bars Sunday.

The video, which quickly went viral, struck a chord with many parents who can identify with the stress of watching their children participate in competitive sports.

After watching the video, Dr. Stephen Graef, Ph.D., a sports psychologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, created a helpful acronym to help moms and dads like the Raismans cope: PARENT.

He tells Newsmax Health the acronym aims to help parents keep perspective on such competitions and enjoy the moments — regardless of the outcome. His advice applies to other situations that can cause anxiety — including job-related tasks, public speaking, and other stressful events.

“When we get anxious about something, we need to be able to zoom out and put it into perspective,” he explains. “From performance standpoint, the Olympics are a big deal, but it isn’t curing cancer. Appreciate and absorb the opportunity.”

Here is Graef’s six-point guide to managing parental stress and anxiety:

Perspective. Make sure to keep in mind that your child’s success or failure in a particular competitive endeavor isn’t the most important thing in his or her life, or your own.

Acceptance. Expect to get a little nervous and experience anxiety watching your children compete or perform. Accept that whether a performance is good or bad and we should still love our kids unconditionally.

Realistic. Be realistic in the outcome of a competition. “In the case of Raisman’s parents, cringing and looking away is not going to have an impact on if their daughter performs well,” he says. “We need to realize that things could go either way and be positive. The same applies for parents of any sport.”

Embrace the moment. Relish the opportunity to watch your kids compete in a sport. Embrace the fact that they’ve got the ability to complete. Don’t overthink or overanalyze it.

Non-judgment. Accept the outcome of a performance, whether a child performs well or not. Be non-judgmental towards yourself and give your kids credit.

Talk it out. Discuss your anxiety and stress. Talk to someone about what you’re feeling. Doing so will help you process things and make it more manageable. “Parents may not know how their children want them to react while watching in the stands,” Graef says. “If you have a conversation and talk it out with your kids, you can understand how they want you to respond. Kids will tell you what they prefer and you can go with that for a while and see how it works out.”


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The anxiety of watching their daughter compete in the Olympics have made Lynn and Rick Raisman Internet sensations, and prompted a sports psychologist to come up with a game plan to help other parents cope.
aly, raisman, parent, anxiety, olympic
Tuesday, 09 August 2016 03:06 PM
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