Written and courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
What can parents do to help their children’s performance in swimming and school? I learned about managing thoughts and that parents can help their children achieve great results from TrainUgly.com and sports parenting expert David Benzel’s webinars*. It comes down to this: swimmers need to start with positive thoughts about themselves. These thoughts or beliefs turn into actions, such as going to more practices or working on their strokes. Those actions will turn into successful results.
That sounds simple, correct? It looks like a foolproof plan for success.
BELIEF — ACTION — RESULTS
The catch is in our beliefs or thoughts. It’s the little voice in our head that can make or break the results we want. If we—or our children—have self-defeating words bouncing through our brains, those negative and destructive thoughts need to be changed.
Here are a few ideas on how to help your children get the results they want:
We can manage our thoughts. We can tell our kids that they are in control of their thoughts. If a negative thought pops into their head, like “I’m no good at this,” or “I’ll never drop enough to time to get the cut,” explain that they can ask,“Where did that thought come from?” They can focus on how hard they’ve been working or that they can achieve their goals. It doesn’t help to simply say, “Don’t think that way!”
We experience 60,000 thoughts per day, which is about one thought per second. If we can separate ourselves from our thoughts, these destructive beliefs will lose their power over us. Negative self-talk hurts our actions and results. If our children believe that they can improve, then they will be more likely to take actions to get better.
There’s only one moment that deserves our attention—and that is now. If we worry about the past, it’s usually with regret and fear. Focusing on the future will fill our heads with anticipation and doubt. There is truth in the phrase, “Live in the moment.” We can help our children understand this concept, too.
Let our kids problem solve. The pool is a perfect place for our children to experience failure and get right back up and try again. If we try to make every little thing more comfortable for them, whether it’s talking to the coach or running to school with forgotten homework, we’re not giving our kids room to grow and learn. Instead, our kids may pick up that they aren’t capable and they can’t handle problems. Despite our best intentions, they could end up feeling insecure and unprepared for the real world.
Belief and positive thoughts start with us. If we don’t buy into our kids’ swim program or coach, then it’s doubtful that our children will. With negative beliefs starting with us and filtering down to our kids, we’re limiting our children’s ability to achieve great results. If our kids don’t believe in their coaches’ plans, then it will be harder for them to get the results they want. They have to believe in the process, and so do we.
*Here’s a link to David Benzel’s webinars and articles through USA Swimming’s parent resources page.
How do you help your kids manage their thoughts?
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/.