…. I would be one of ‘those’ parents. If my kid was on a soccer team, I am pretty sure I would be the mom yelling out ‘Run Faster! Get the Ball!’. I don’t really care so much about the Scoring The Goal bit, but I do care about the Trying Hard. It irritates me immensely to see kids goofing off when they can, and should, be focused on the task at hand.
I guess it is a good thing my kids don’t play team sports. Ha! It is one thing to see your kid goofing off.. but it would drive me to the edge seeing other kids goofing off and wasting everyone’s time. Definitely when the kids are older (age 8?).. but not now. I see parents with their 2 and 3 year olds soccer and t-ball practice… and think to myself ‘I wish I had THAT kind of patience’. I don’t.
So when it comes to swimming, I have the same approach. Both my kids are comfortable in the water. My older one has always been that way… my younger one is fine, unless she has to put her face/head under the water. At age 4, I knew she was capable of conquering that fear and doing more. So I said NO to a swim vest this summer. The only thing she could use was a pool noodle. She was VERY upset at first. “Fine!“, I told her. “You are welcome to sit out and watch.”. Well that stuck for five minutes. When she saw everyone else having so much fun, she got into the pool. Without a vest. Once in the pool, she stayed by the wall. No vest, no roaming free. I let her play a while but she had to practice new things for at least a few minutes. In this case, putting her head under water. She protested. Oh, she protested a lot. But we did it once. Twice. Three times. And soon enough that fear faded away. And now, with the help of swim lessons, she is making so much progress. Letting go of the wall, and swimming a few strokes under the water. I am so proud of her!
I always tell my kids, ‘Never say the words “I can’t!“‘. So you will often hear my younger daughter muttering to herself, like the Little Engine That Could, “I think I can. I think I can. I know I can. I think I can.“. What I do works with the personalities that my kids have… I understand that this approach would not work with all kids. I can even empathize with the ‘what is the hurry? they will learn when they want to!’ . But I think sometimes we have to show them that they are capable of more than they believe. Push them beyond their comfort level. And always be there to catch them if they fall.