Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
Like many swim parents, I was never a swimmer myself—unless one or two summers taking Red Cross lessons counts. If you’re a swimmer or swammer, you’ve experienced first hand what your kids are going through on a daily basis. Plus, you learned from your own mom and dad what it’s like to have supportive, or non-supportive swim parents.
But if you’re a non-swimmer or a non-athlete of any kind, how can you inspire your kids to swim? In a recent webinar by David Benzel, founder and president of Growing Champions for Life, he answered this question. I discovered Benzel on USA Swimming’s website where he’s included as a resource for parents.
Here are four things parents can do to inspire their children:
Benzel said, “values are often caught, not taught.” In other words, your kids will role model your behavior and hard work ethic. Whatever you’re involved in, whether it’s your job, writing, sewing, etc. they’ll notice your hard work and perseverance. You can be an inspiration by showing your passion and dedication for what you do.
Create an inspiring atmosphere
Take your kids to see top level swimmers. Maybe there’s a big meet in your area with older kids that would be inspiring for your kids to watch. If there’s swimming on TV like the Olympics, Worlds, or a college dual meet, turn it on and watch with them.
Show genuine interest
Ask your kids to teach you more about swimming. Ask questions like what are they working on or what did they learn from a race or practice. Show them that you care about swimming by volunteering for their team or timing at meets. Or, join masters and learn to swim and compete yourself. From personal experience, my kids love to critique my stroke and help me improve.
Many times we tell our kids that they are so great because they’re smart or talented. Unfortunately, this is complimenting our kids for something they are not responsible for and the end result is they won’t try as hard as they could. Catch your kids working hard, whether it’s on their homework or in swimming and praise them. Kids want to please their parents, so recognizing our kids for not giving up on something difficult will encourage them to keep trying.
In what ways do you inspire your children to work hard at swimming?
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.