Alright, so you’re not ready to listen to parenting advice from a hunky college kid teaching your kid how to swim?
Not learning anything from the “too skinny to be healthy, but I’m secretly jealous” local high school girl teaching the backstroke?
Maybe you should pay a little more attention, because deep down inside those tanned bodies, they are teaching you valuable lessons about parenting:
1. Anytime your mouth is below water, blow bubbles (Simple rules win!)
Look, the consequences of breathing under water are a bit more daunting than the consequences of not picking up after playtime, so its important for the kids to follow this direction. But the rule is very simple…blow out of your mouth when under water. It is that simple, because it is that important.
At home, make very simple rules when its really important. Follow through with them. At the very beginning, do not let them error. Be there to make sure they do it the right way. Encourage them and remind them…
2. See how big a splash you can make with your feet (Turn things into a game)
Your swim coach would never try to get your kid to kick their legs and feet by talking to them about propulsion and flotation. They get them to kick their feet by simply making it fun to kick their feet AND by giving them a way to get immediate feedback for doing it correctly (if they do it correctly, the larger the splash will be).
I think too often parents get into the mode of over-explaining, over-rationalizing and lecturing about the “whys” instead of the “hows.” Really, it is more important, at their age, how they engage in the behavior and experience the benefits of it rather than understanding why they should do it, why it makes sense, etc.
3. Swim to the edge (Early success matters)
Your kid’s swimming coach would never start your kids at the middle and tell them to swim to the edge…hope you make it! Hunky McSwimmerton starts your kid close to the edge and with his hand holding your little swimmer up, he gets the legs kicking and gently pushes him to the edge of the pool. Then the cheering begins! You’re a swimmer! Success not only breeds success, but it also builds a history with making it to the edge. Slowly, Tini Bikini backs up with your kid, but only to a distance she knows your kid will make.
Too many times we start our kids “in the middle” and expect them to “swim” to the edge. We start with “clean your room” or “do your laundry” without starting them at a point of success and fading out to what we really want. This goes for quality too. Your “clean” room might not be your kid’s “clean” room. Start with success and fade out…maintaining that success.
4. Roll over if you get in trouble (Teach self-help and resiliency)
One of the things I recently saw a few kids do in the pool which was pretty neat was when they got in trouble (swam too far out or got too far from the parent), they rolled over on their backs to catch a few breaths and either called out for the parent or reset themselves to make it to the edge. Turns out, this is something they were taught in swimming class.
There are times when kids get upset for good reasons and also for reasons that are pretty ridiculous. Its gonna happen. They need to know how to reset themselves and calmly be able to access help or calm themselves enough to assess the situation and get out. When another kid takes a toy, when milk is spilled, when the show turns off all of a sudden when the power goes out. Resiliency is huge for kids. Teach them to be able to handle when things don’t go their way. This is huge (as is rolling over in the water to catch a breath).
5. I’ve gotcha (Be there to ensure success, reward effort and protect, just in case)
Teaching your kid that you will be there to support them, to make sure they learn easy and hard lessons (what it feels like when water goes in your nose or when you get a little too ambitious and have to roll on your back to breathe), and to catch them if they really get in a hard spot is something we can all strive to do on a daily basis.
When it is all said and done…we are still parents. We will protect above and beyond all things.
Alright guys, spread some Zinc on your nose, spin a whistle around your fingers and slide on a new pair of shades…you’re ready!