Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
I was asked recently by a new swim parent on how to motivate your swimmer. The short answer is that you cannot motivate your child. Motivation comes from within.
What we CAN do for our swimmers is encourage them. Try to inspire them. Hope that they love the sport and will stay motivated and focused themselves.
Have you asked your swimmer why they swim? In my case, my kids learned to swim very young because we wanted them to be pool safe. They looked up to the older kids on the team and couldn’t wait until they were old enough to join. Through the years, they gained fitness, found a healthy release from studies, formed friendships, learned time management, toughness and perseverance. There are so many life lessons chasing after goals and sometimes achieving them — plus learning how to deal with failure.
Here are five tips on how parents can encourage our swimmers:
Tell your child that you like to watch them swim. Don’t coach or critique their performance.
Remember that the sport belongs to your child. Let them take ownership and responsibility for their success.
Make the atmosphere and experience fun. Don’t pressure them with unrealistic expectations or compare them to other swimmers.
Be involved! I’ve noticed that the parents who volunteer are the ones who have successful swimmers. Parents who drop their kids off at the curb outside the pool and never watch a practice or meet will have kids that quit.
Give them room to breathe. The pool should be a place where they can’t to see their friends and have fun. So, don’t hover. Give them the freedom to become the best they can be on their own!
How do you encourage your swimmers?
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.