How to explain the Aussie cricket scandal to your child

If you’re the parent of a child whose world has been touched by Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft's huge fall from grace, then today has been a tough day.

Explaining to a kid why their heroes - for that is what the Aussie cricket team are to so many young people - decided that cheating was a good idea, well that's a hard conversation to have.

For cricket Luddites, explaining ball tampering itself is a hard ask, quite frankly, so trying to balance that with a conversation about why heroes are flawed and why this ball tampering, in particular, has caused the sporting world to implode? That’s just plain cruel.

Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith were forced to admit their role in the ball-tampering scandal.

According to educator and parenting author Dannielle Miller, yes, it’s a tough moment in parenting, but conversations like these can actually be really useful.

“When our child’s hero falls, it’s an incredibly valuable learning opportunity,” she says. “We can discuss with them the fact that everyone makes mistakes, and point out that there are many ways in which we can bounce back.

"Questions that can initiate powerful conversations include: 'Why do you think admitting that the team cheated matters?' 'What do you think is a suitable penalty?' Or, 'What would it take for you to trust the players involved again?'”

And it’s not just the people who made the mistake who you can discuss with children. The way society has reacted - and how it’s being reported in the media - can be just as illuminating.

Dannielle suggests you ask your child to read some of the news reports or watch commentary on TV, then ask them if they think the reporting seemed balanced and fair, and if they think we tend to talk more about mistakes and people’s failings than we do about their efforts and successes.

“By encouraging them to reflect in this way we're not only helping them make sense of what has happened in the moment but providing an opportunity for them to develop their own values and enhance their critical thinking skills long-term," says Dannielle.

Of course, there is another question here too, With young cricketer, Cameron Bancroft seemingly drawn into the scandal by his senior team members, how do we teach our kids to say no when asked to compromise their own integrity?

Dannielle says that’s a good point. After all, we’re all likely be tested at some point.

“What will make this moment of truth easier to deal with," she says, "is if we have a strong understanding of what matters to us (and why this matters) to fall back on. For example, children who do the right thing simply as they fear being punished otherwise, are more likely to break rules if they suspect no one will find out what they have done.”

Her advice is simple - support them no matter what. That way, the fear should be lifted.

“It’s vital that we also teach our kids that no matter what they have done, or how bad the mistake they make is if they come to us seeking support," Dannielle insists. "We as parents will always be there to help them move from feelings of shame to a determination to make things right again.”

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