I have been involved with swimming for along time, nearly 30 years.  I have seen a lot around the pool deck when conducting swimming lessons yet some things still cease to astound me.

Children work out very quickly what sort of behavior will get them what they want, quite often this will include bad behavior and tantrums.  This bad behavior is often allowed because parents give in due to being tired, frustrated or even embarrassed.  Therefore that tantrum is rewarded.

This can carry on until society, school, peers or a stronger willed swimming teachers come into the equation.  Making it quite clear that kind of behavior is unacceptable and then a new more acceptable behavior has to be taught.

I’m not talking about scared, frightened swimmer here that’s a different kettle of fish. I’m talking throw the goggles thrown down, stomping feet and screaming abuse type of behavior by a young child.  They think if they carry on long enough and loud enough then they will win.  Not on my deck.

Tip 1  – NEVER REWARD BAD BEHAVIOR, EVER!!!

Tip 2 – LOVE YOUR KIDS THE MOST WHEN THEY ARE AT THEIR WORST.

Often when a child throws a tantrum parents will say it’s ok you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to, you have got to be kidding me!!!!  That little swimmer has no life experience and no understanding of the ramifications of what could happen if they don’t learn how to swim.  These parents are enabling bad behavior and certainly not giving the child good skills for life and when a parent gives a reward after such poor attitude well that’s when I’m astounded.

God bless all those strong swimming teachers out there that don’t break. I can honestly say in all my years of teaching that a child has never broken me, it hasn’t been easy and I understand how tiring it can get but those swimmers have to know who is in charge and that good behavior should always be applauded. Even if it is only kicking the legs, praise the house down when they actually do it and teach them how great they are.  They just have to know who the boss is and that can be achieved with consistent discipline and structure.  Then when they see that pattern they will start to understand pretty soon what works better than bad behavior.

Coach Spence

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