A lesson in Swimming - What I have learnt.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Saturday morning, another morning of dragging my son to swimming lessons. He gets dressed at home into his swimmers and then complains every minute until he gets into the pool. Twenty minutes every Saturday morning for the past 3 months, complaining “I hate swimming”, “why do I have to do swimming?”, “the water is too cold”, “It’s terrible”, “I can’t get it right”, “I’m not even good at it” on and on.... and on. Probably hoping we’ll cave and make him stop because of his complaints.

Believe me I’ve come close but we have a rule (Lesson 1) that the boys have to do one sport a season and once they start something they have to finish. He has been in swimming almost a year now, we gave him the option to do tennis (if swimming was that bad) but he insisted that would be worse (without even trying it:) ) so swimming it has been.

Lesson 1: Make it a rule, if there is something you truly believe in, make it a non-negotiable for everyone!

Lesson 2: There is no point in arguing, as it isn’t about what he is saying, it is about attitude. You see, children say things, words come out of their mouths sometimes and underneath is what the real issue is. It’s easy to ramble on and moan or grumble and as parents we get stuck in the problem solving and try to make things better.  We come up with comebacks to everything they say, we can give (convincing) reasons or explanations to answer their questions. All futile, and mostly unnecessary (see why down the page). Eventually after 10 weeks (I’m a slow learner) we kept quiet and ignored his rants, We discovered there was no point in arguing as it isn't the argument or words he says, it is his attitude.

Dilemmas, problems these can be solved through discussion, through argument or debate but attitude can come only from within oneself.

He has been working tirelessly in the swimming class to move up to the next level and while I am all for levels and measuring there is a downside- the risk of failure! His swimming teacher has painstakingly concentrated on his backstroke and repeatedly explained how to perfect his stroke and kicking style, his younger brother had moved up 4 months earlier so this was another obstacle.

We explained to him that when he got to the next level he could make up his own mind as to whether to stop or not and it was his decision then. It has been long and tough on all of us, seeing him try and try and somedays frustratingly - just not getting there, just not being good enough to move up.

Another Saturday, another morning of complaining, another practice, another session, but this time success! He got promoted to the next level. He had stuck it out, he had done it! And perhaps the fact it has taken so long means he feels even more pride. You know what, even more surprisingly to me - he came home saying, “I got moved to the next level, I need a pair of flippers like M’s now” What?!, yes you read right, he wants to stay in swimming.  The same boy who has moaned for months is now motivated to continue, to keep doing it for himself. Attitude, it has to be developed in a child. (perhaps there is another blogpost there)

Lesson 3: Don’t let your children give up without a very good reason! There are so many lessons to be learnt from perservering, from completing what one has started and eventually that sense of pride that can lift them up and means they can accomplish even more.

Has your child ever succeeded at something they have found really difficult? How did you respond?


Anonymous said...

Great advice- especially for teenagers who are the masters of bad attitude and giving up

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