Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham
Dear Swim Mom,
With all the changes in swimming this year, my son has lost interest to return to swimming. Our local pool reopened but they don’t allow teams to practice. So if my son is going to swim, it’s on his own with workouts from the coach.
I thought taking a break would make him more motivated than ever, but he said he doesn’t know if he still wants to swim. I’ve tried to ask why, but he just shrugs his shoulders. He is starting high school this year, although the first month will be remotely and we don’t have word on if there will be high school swimming or not.
How can I motivate him to get back to the pool? Any advice you have will be appreciated.
—Seriously Concerned Mom
Dear Seriously Concerned Mom,
This has been a tough time for the swimming community. Hopefully, in a few months, things will seem more normal with your team being allowed to practice and your son will want to return to swimming. I think it’s all the uncertainty and not swimming with a team that is causing your son to lose motivation. Also, doing workouts on his own is hard for anyone. Friendships with teammates and the relationship with a coach motivates many swimmers to keep them going. Maybe he can invite one of his teammates to workout at the same time?
I’ve heard from other parents that their children don’t want to return to the pool because they are afraid they are too out of shape and won’t be as fast as they used to be. That is a fear that is real. Maybe you can talk to him and explain that it will take time to get back to where he left off, but getting back in shape may be quicker than he thinks. He might even find that the break from swimming will help him out mentally. When he returns, he may love swimming more than ever.
His feelings are completely understandable and valid. You have to accept what he’s going through and love him at the moment, how he is. Interest in his sport may come and go and come back stronger at another date. Or, he might find motivation in another area of his life.
Motivation is internal. We can’t motivate our kids, but we can inspire them. We can give them resources, support and a healthy environment. But in the end, it’s our children who are motivated, we can’t do it for them. We can offer unconditional love regardless of what they choose to be passionate about.
What advice do you have for Seriously Concerned Mom on how to help her son want to return to the pool?
If you have a question for Ask Swim Mom, please email Elizabeth Wickham at [email protected].
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.