“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”
— Lou Holtz
Things happen in our lives that are less than ideal. How do we react when we are passed over for a promotion, the car breaks down, or we get a nasty cold? We’re our children’s major role models, and they learn from us how to act when things don’t go well.
At the pool, when your child’s goggles fall off during a race and they miss a cut for the big meet, how do they act? Does your child mimic your behavior when things get tough? Do your kids learn from their setbacks, or do they throw a fit, or give up? Swimming provides our kids a laboratory to experience all sorts of life lessons. Let’s try to help them understand what we can and cannot control, and that yes, stuff happens. It’s how we react that matters most.
Here are a few thoughts about what we can and cannot control:
We cannot control all circumstances.
Yes, we can control some things like what team our child is on and how often we get them to practice. But there are many things out of our control like if our child gets sick or injured before a big meet, or if they get DQ’d for a false start. We can help our kids learn from these unfortunate times by staying calm and explaining what things they can control—like effort and hard work.
We cannot control other people.
There may be teammates who are rude and unkind, parents who cause problems and coaches who are less than perfect. Also, there may be swimmers more talented and faster. We can’t control any of these people, but we can control how we react to them. Hopefully, our kids will learn positively from our behavior.
We can control our attitude.
We’ve heard this over and over, and it’s true: we are in charge of our attitudes. Our attitude determines how we feel and our success. If we embrace the journey and not focus solely on results, we’ll help ourselves and children learn to appreciate the big picture. Through swimming, our kids can develop healthy lifestyles, good sportsmanship, character and learn life lessons like perseverance, goal setting and how to work hard. Personally, I’m thankful for all that swimming has taught my kids through the ups and downs. I hope they’ll keep positive attitudes throughout their lives.
What have your kids learned from swimming and how has a positive attitude helped them?
Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.