5 Tips For Swim Parents About Handling Conflicts

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

We want our kids to be successful, happy and get the attention they deserve on their swim team. However, conflicts can arise on the team because of poor communication between coaches and parents, swimmers and coaches, or between kids. You might believe your child should be moved up into another group, your child may have felt left out by friends, or a coach yelled at your child.

As parents, there are all sorts of scenarios that can be less than perfect and get us upset. If your child is not in any danger, then my best bit of advice when facing a conflict, is to take a deep breath and count to ten. Better yet, wait for about three days before you take any action. By waiting a few days and having time to think things over you may end up with a different perspective. Distance can be an effective tool in handling conflicts.

Here are five reasons to wait before taking action on a conflict:


Find out the whole story.

You may learn there is more than one side to the story. Of course, we believe our children, but if youre getting the information only from them, it will be from their point of view. There may be something theyre not aware of when they tell you their problem. There may be another side to the story or another perspective, or they may have misunderstood the other person.


Your kids may want to vent.

Often, we problem solve for our kids when they just want to be heard. We need to be there for our kids and we want them to express themselves and tell us about their days, both good and bad. They might not want us to jump in and will feel better just by talking to us. Being a good listener is a valuable skill and helpful all on its own.


You could make it worse.

If were emotionally charged and upset, chances are we arent going help in a touchy situation. By waiting a few days and calming down, well be more level-headed and less likely to get upset or overreact. If you react when youre upset, theres no turning back, and it may take more work to correct a situation.


Problem-solving is a skill our kids need.

By taking over and handling our childrens problems we arent allowing them to learn the skills theyll need throughout their lives. Theyll definitely need to know how to talk to professors, landlords, bosses and coworkers when things arent perfect. The swim team is a great place to practice problem-solving skills and develop courage and patience.


Is it still an issue?

After waiting a few days, intense emotions may lessen. We may realize the conflict that bothered us isnt a big deal anymore. If it is still important, then go ahead and write that email, or make an appointment with the person you need to speak with. Youll be less likely to act emotionally or irrational with time on your side.

How do you handle conflicts with coaches, parents or 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: http://bleuwater.me/.

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7 years ago

Great article. My son just moved up to the next age group and is one of the strongest swimmers in that group. Older members have staked out their positions in the line up and push him back even though he is faster. This was causing me to be frustrated and angry. My son just takes it in stride, good for him. I have placed myself in self-imposed exile to reduce my frustration levels. What’s that song? Let it go. Being a good swim mom is a work in progress.

7 years ago

Thank you. Excellent points.