6 Thoughts for Swim Parents About Positive Attitudes

by SwimSwam Contributors 3

August 19th, 2016 Club, Lifestyle

Written by Elizabeth Wickham.

Watching the Olympics, I was moved by positive attitudes—whether a swimmer won their 23rd gold medal—or didn’t make it to finals. How impressive was the obvious joy, from a big smile on Anthony Ervin’s face after winning gold at age 35, a bronze for first-time Olympian Cody Miller or Missy Franklin swimming a leg of the 800 free relay at prelims.

Positive attitudes and Olympic spirit were shining for days.

Here are my thoughts on helping our kids with positive attitudes and outlooks:


We are our kids first and most important teachers.

Our kids learn from us for years before they enter school. Once they’re taught and coached by others, they still look to us as their ultimate instructor in life.


They learn from what we do, not what we say.

We can tell our kids to do the right things. However, they learn more from our body language and actions than from our words. Their positive or negative outlooks are influenced by us. They learn how to act in times of success and disappointment from our behaviors.


We may imitate our own parents without realizing it.

Were your parents hypercritical or negative? Have you ever caught yourself saying, “I sound just like my mother—or father?” I think we all have sometime, and it’s downright scary.


One of the few things we can control is our attitude.

Many things in swimming, we can’t fix or change, like talent, an illness, or a swimmer who is faster. Having a positive or negative outlook and attitude is up to the individual.


Negative self-talk influences our attitude.

We can help our kids and ourselves by changing that little voice in our head. For example, if your child says, “That was the worst swim ever,” or “I’m no good,” be objective. No, it wasn’t the worst swim ever and a bad swim doesn’t make them “no good.” At the same time, don’t go overboard and declare their less than stellar swim was “amazing.” You can evaluate your own negative self-talk in the same way.


Kids with good attitudes are highly coachable and become leaders.

What coach doesn’t like a swimmer who comes to practice ready to work hard and take on leadership roles? A positive outlook will do wonders for success in the pool, school, work and overall happiness.

What thoughts do you have about positive attitudes, coaching and parenting?

Elizabeth WickhamElizabeth 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.

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Alison Parker
3 years ago

loved the ideas

Dr. Susan Murphy
6 years ago

Thank you, Elizabeth, for this important article. Your 6 points are very important focusing on the importance of parents’ positive influence and responsibility. I liked that you cautioned parents to be honest and not tell kids they have an “amazing” swim when it wasn’t. Kids can see through those falsehoods. On a positive note, I know many businesses that will favor candidates who have participated in sports because athletes know about hard work, discipline, teamwork, humility and winning! Congratulations on a superb article.

Swims in Pools
6 years ago

Number three really struck a cord with me. My mother was extremely negative and I have to be very conscience of my words and behavior. I don’t want my kids to think they aren’t fast enough even if they aren’t the fastest in the pool.