By Elizabeth Wickham
When my kids were little they were afraid of the “bulkhead monkeys,” make believe monsters nicknamed by a coach. My daughter said the noises coming from the bulkhead were scary and she’d turn as fast as possible to get away. Those monsters are a thing of the past. Instead, there’s another monster on the pool deck—the “Green-Eyed Monster” of jealousy—most often seen between parents.
Here are my tips to deal with the Green-Eyed Monster:
Recognize Jealousy Exists
In my years of swim parenting, I haven’t seen much jealousy between swimmers. The kids seem to sort it out on their own. Problems occur when parents get involved. We get so invested in our swimmers’ success that sometimes the Green-Eyed Monster raises it’s ugly head. Be aware that jealousy does happen and try to keep it in check.
Lead by Example
I know some parents who don’t have a single bone of jealousy in their bodies. I watch them enthusiastically cheer for other swimmers. They’re ecstatic for their own kids’ best times and wins, but they honestly don’t care if someone else is faster or gets more attention from the coach. They embrace being part of the team and having their kids involved in the sport. I look to these parents as role models for the rest of us—who are less than perfect. They truly lead by example.
Be Nice About It
Be gracious, kind, and a good team member. Swim parenting is a short sliver of time in our lives. It may not seem like it when you’re the one driving to early morning practices and long weekend meets. But, you’ll look back on the swim team as one of the best things you’ve ever done for your kids. As a swim parent and former board member, I’ve seen how destructive and hurtful jealousy can be. Life’s too short and our years on the team should be treasured.
Encourage Our Children to Follow Their Own Dreams
Every swimmer on the team has their own goals and dreams. We need to encourage our children to work hard and put in their best effort. It doesn’t matter how other kids are doing and we shouldn’t compare. It’s also a good life lesson to teach our kids to be humble when they experience more success than those around them. We want our kids to follow and pursue their dreams and not be influenced by what others think.
When have you seen jealousy on the pool deck? What lessons can our kids learn about jealousy?
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.