How to keep children motivated for swimming?
Daddy, I don't feel like going to the training today. Mum, could you please tell the coach that my tummy hurts and that I’m not in the mood for swimming today. Why should I go to the training today if just yesterday we had that competition and I won a medal? Look at this lousy weather, mum can I just skip today’s training, pleaseeeee… I’m sure these sentences are familiar to you, not only when it comes to the excuses for training, swimming, but any form of learning… If children are not motivated, for a tiniest little thing, not to mention swimming, they will lose their motivation, right after the first «hurdle» or even a conquered «top of a mountain».
This is why parents usually ask: What should we do so that our child does not lose motivation for training, swimming, learning. How to motivate him/her, when the goals have been achieved? What is the right move?
I can tell you what I do in those cases. I always try to make a challenge for my children before a training, which can help them in the future and in a situation outside the swimming pool. That is the only way I can motivate them and myself and improve together.
9 tips to boost the motivation of children to swim «smoothly» and enjoy:
Leave the comfort zone.Identify the weak points and work on them with your child. In life as in swimming, there will always be bad starts and bad turns and jumps, which is a regular way of learning things, and quite often a necessary part of every process. And it is up to us to help the children both in and out of the swimming pool to realise it and accept it. In this way, the motivation will remain. There is no improvement without leaving the comfort zone.
Be a model of positive behaviour, creative thinking. The person who is there to give a hand in solving a problem, but not solving it instead of them. Show them you won’t give up on them, that you’re there for any kind of support they need, and for dealing with disappointment as well.
Theory and practice should be adjusted to all ages. Be realistic in making your plans.. When making a training plan make sure you always have in mind the realistic abilities of children or a little bit above them. In this way you will make them put a genuine effort and meet the set goals. If they are unrealistic or too ambitious for the age you train, it can turn them away from training and love for sport. Because they can think they are not good enough for it and can easily lose interest and give up, since they will not enjoy it, and they will not achieve the expected success…
Try something new, even if you’re not sure about it and if you’re scared. It’s not a big deal to start from scratch. What matters is to start and see how far you can get, both you and your child. Try not to be judgmental to yourself in advance or compare your swimming to others who have been part of the process much longer than you.
Identify their strong points and boost them. If you feel that children are struggling with some elements in the course of learning, especially if it takes some time, make sure you always stress the strong points of each child, write them down in the curriculum, and remind them how good and capable they are. But in order to be better, they have to put a bit more effort…
Play, challenge them and challenge yourself. Choose something they care about. It’s quite important to work hard and set new and more demanding goals, achieved through the progress children make, but we must never forget they are still children who love to play and enjoy the play. Always find some time for fun, reward them with an interesting game of their choice, especially if they did it well in the training.
Take them out the water. It is often the easiest way to make a challenge during a “dry” training, outside the water, in a gym. However, a combination of a “dry” training and swimming at the same time can be quite challenging.. especially the “Games without borders”! It all depends on the age of the swimmers.
Learn their language. Children come to the swimming pool with their heads full of thoughts. The first thing I do then is to shake them up. What I usually do before they jump into the pool is telling them an anecdote or a good joke they find funny. It is even better at the end of the training when I show them my moves to a new music hit I have mastered.
Talk to them and listen to them. If there is something still unclear to them, with a good talk everting can be sorted out! Talk about the achieved results: What’s the best way to deal with a set challenge according to them? What are the things they would have done better if they had had more time? What was the hardest part? What would they do differently next time? Don’t let them go home without having talked about the “bees in their bonnet”.
How do you motivate children to remain persistent in swimming and learning?