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Swimming: What are the things that kids do to get their parents’ attention at the swimming pool?

There is nothing wrong about children seeking their parents’ attention at the swimming pool. Especially when we talk about the youngest ones. It is quite usual for children to communicate through their behaviour in the water and next to it, but safety comes first. If we ignore children's violent behaviour in the context of swimming, we actually ignore their needs. Oftentimes, "changes" in the family lead to side effects in children both in and around the swimming pool. I know, it is not always easy for a child to understand what he or she needs at that very moment, but it is worth the effort even when you think there is no solution. The easiest way out is giving up on swimming!

Here are just some of the examples from "my" swimming pool when parents think of giving up on swimming while the only thing the children want is actually their attention.

I don’t want my child to attend the swimming school anymore!

A five-year-old boy, who had been swimming and enjoying the water for a year and was a role model to others, became disobedient in swimming classes. He started ignoring everything related to swimming for several months. He did everything opposite to what he was told to do. He didn't even want to swim anymore, and he was disrupting the entire class. When I presented the situation to his parents, his mother came the next class and said decisively: "I don’t want my child to attend the swimming school anymore." Although I could hear a relief in her voice, it was a sentence I had not heard by the pool for a long time.

When I asked her: Why are you giving up so easily? The woman replied: "I no longer have the nerve to watch him behave like that every time he goes swimming." The boy didn’t want his dad to take him to the swim school, as he only wanted his mum to do so. However, when his mother brought him to swim school, he did everything just to provoke her reaction. It was clear that the little swimmer wanted his mother's attention at all costs.

I kindly asked the mum to give the swimming a chance for another month. She accepted it.

In a talk with the five-year-old boy, I tried to find out why he was like that with his parents and swimming, when he actually really loved them, and I knew that he loved swimming. Then the mom appeared at the door one day and it was obviously this time that she was pregnant, and our swimmer was waiting for his brother to be born.

A change in the family often leads to side effects in children both in and around the pool. It is up to us to recognize it on time. When the protagonist of this story got a brother, he proudly brought him to baby swimming. So, be patient, give swimming, children, and the whole family a chance.

How much is attention-seeking acceptable in and around the water?

  • As long as the attention is not threatening.

  • As long as it is positive for children and people around.

  • As long as children are safe in the water and around it.

  • As long as swimming and activity of other swimmers are not disrupted.

  • As long as child's desire for attention in the water does not becomes a demand for too much attention.

  • As long as seeking attention solves a specific child's problem in and around the water.

  • As long as the child's behaviour seeks only the confirmation of the closest ones for doing something well.

  • As long as children’s attention seeking in the water does not exceed the limits of the possible.

  • As long as the child's excessive attention does not affect the freedom of others in and around the water.

Once you learn how to swim you can come back home!

The third son in the family. The father of two swimmers brings the youngest son, a non-swimmer, to the pool. As he is helping him put on his goggles and the cap, he is telling him: "When you learn to swim, come back home!" You could sense how strict and fierce, but at the same time caring the dad was. It sounded harsh, but I realized Dad didn’t have any more patience for the five-year-old. It was all clear why. From the first day at the pool, the boy did only the things he wanted to do in the water and swam the way he wanted. He didn't listen to anyone. He kept coming out of the water, attracting attention by fooling around. He distracted not only other children, but coaches too. He did similar things in the home pool. He had no fear of water, or depth. Such behaviour and carelessness led to the situation that he got rescued from the home pool several times. He wanted to show off in front of his older brothers, swimmers, who often did not have time for him.

How did the five-year-old learn how to swim?

I asked his dad to give his son and swimming another chance. I asked him to bring the older brothers, the swimmers, to the next class. When they arrived, I took my pyjamas out of my backpack, spread out a blanket and placed a pillow by the pool. Everyone was looking at me, but the plan was the following. We negotiated ... I offered the five-year-old two options in front of his brothers. The first option was to learn to swim as soon as possible, because when he knows how to swim, he can enjoy many things. The agreement was that if he learnt how to swim, he could go fishing with his dad in a boat, go down to the water park and on slides, and play with his grandfather in the pool and enjoy it with his brothers. The second option was that I would sleep with him at the pool until he decided to choose the first option - to learn to swim!

The boy smiled and swam without protesting. With every next class he became a better and safer swimmer. Today, he can swim with his brothers in the school swimming team side by side. He can swim and enjoy it. He himself became an older brother a few months ago. He brought his six-month-old sister to baby swimming together with his mother!

What are the things that kids do to get their parents’ attention at the swimming pool while they’re learning to swim?

Negative attention of children in the water is often better than not having it at all. Children who are just learning to swim are giving us signals that they are dissatisfied with something or are just disobedient. But even that is better than not getting any reaction or emotion from them while swimming. Of course, only if the child's distracting behaviour does not endanger the safety of others in and around the water. Parents and the coach are there to channel it, when necessary, and set some boundaries.

Children often provoke their parents’ attention in the water by:

  • Splashing about in the pool or splashing other children who do not like it.

  • Screaming for no reason, crying with no tears. Let them be hysterical.

  • Diving when you are talking to them.

  • Jumping, running after or pushing each other in the shallows and by the pool.

  • Even biting or pinching others in the pool. Kicking under the water.

  • Throwing rubber and plastic water toys at each other.

  • Going to their mom or dad several times during the class for various reasons.

  • Doing everything wrong and opposite, taking props from other children.

  • Deliberately taking off their cap or goggles…

When you notice that your child is doing this while swimming, do not give up immediately on school and swimming, as swimming is an important life skill. If you do that, this will mean that his negative attention won. The child received your parental attention, but the cause remained undiscovered. This is not a rocket science, but a thing that often happens at the edge of the swimming pool. So, with the support of the coach, try to redirect the child's negative attention to positive behavior in and near the water. Believe me, it is worth it! Swimming is your best friend in raising your children. Give it a chance.

There is no room for carelessness in the water!

Twins. Completely foolish, both on the dry and in water, while their motor skills were quite fine. Their parents brought them to baby swimming at the age of nine months, and then the time came for them to start with swimming lessons on their own at the age of four. From the moment they got "separated" from their parents, they spoke and reacted less while swimming. Through their carelessness, they sought parental attention by the pool. The parents were about to stop bringing them to swimming for a while. At one point, the twins turned into little manipulators, making everyone think that they were afraid of water until they started swimming lessons on their own! It was necessary to endure all that, and keep on swimming.

It was the time to react.

And in this case, I was acting more as a pedagogue and psychologist rather than a swimming coach. For each class, I would prepare plasticized pictures with animals, like for babies, in order to get through to the twins, because their behaviour showed me that they were still at the "baby" level in the water. However, at the same time, I talked with their peers, swimmers, in a usual way, explained and taught them how to swim while playing. We all had a good time. I have applied this approach to swimming with the twins only twice. Do you know why? Because the twins came to me once and said loud and clear: "We are not babies, we want to play and swim with our friends. That's how it was, they enjoyed swimming, and they communicated very well with their friends in the water.

How to turn the children’s negative attention into a positive focus in the water?

By accepting. With patience. By showing them an example. By talking with them. With an idea. By playing. By understanding. By bringing some action!

All children, including us parents, need attention. The difference is that children often do not look for it in the right way. They are also prone to exaggeration by the pool, which makes the parents have harsh reactions. I proved myself right. Regardless of the behaviour, children's need for attention should not be ignored either in the water or by the pool! Because there is no room for carelessness in the water!

Life is more beautiful when you’re swimming!


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