Swimming is a wonderful sport for children to learn life-saving skills, become self-determined, and enjoy a fun physical activity. While swimming builds many positive character traits, it's a challenging sport. One way to keep your child motivated is to set attainable goals. Goals are great check marks for the child to see personal growth and track their progress. By following some of the advice below, you can help your child reach their goals and grow in their swimming abilities.
Set the Right Goals
Help your child to feel successful by setting them up for success with goals they can achieve. A good goal is one that is specific, measurable, and realistic. The perfect goal will be just out of your child’s range of ability; not too easily attainable, or incredibly challenging.
A good question to begin understanding your swimmer’s point of view is by asking them “Why do you swim?” Even if you are the one enforcing the swim practice for the health or safety of your child, your child should be able to explain why swimming is important. From there, you can pose the question, “What is something in swimming you would like to get better at?". If your child shares that they would like to be fast, that is a good goal, but it needs to be measured. After every lesson you can time your child as they swim a lap then share the time with them. Record the time to show growth. Then, your child can set a practical goal of a time to reach.
It is important that you only help guide the goal to be attainable to your child; he or she is the one who should be choosing their own goal. If you choose the goals for them and push them toward those goals, there is a risk that your child will become uninterested.
Setting a reward for the goal will help your child desire achieving their goal even more. In the sport of swimming, it is good to set goals that are a challenge, but practical to reach with extra effort. The rewards will mean more when there was a challenge or struggle to reach the goal.
Encouragement will help your young swimmer become more excited about the sport and have a drive to do well in it. Your genuine cheering, motivational talks, and words of encouragement will show your child that you're there to support them. Ultimately, swimming is your child’s opportunity to take ownership of their success and failures. This part of swimming is hard at first, but with encouragement, children can build positive character traits through swimming.
Staying engaged in your child’s performance will show them you are serious about their progress and want to help them reach their goals. If you clear your schedule to attend a swim competition or meet, your child will see how important it is you, and they will want to do well in response. Make sure to tell your child that you enjoy watching them as well. During all the spectating, you will have several opportunities to encourage your child. The coaches should be left to coaching and guiding your child, while your job is to encourage and motivate, which keeps your child enjoying the sport.
Support Team Friendships
Children are great at making friends. The benefit to this is that children will see swimming as a fun activity to do with their friends. The friendships built can prevent your child from becoming disinterested in the sport. Friends can also push each other to reach their goal, as well as to try harder daily. Usually their team will want to do team-building activities such as wearing the same color swimming cap or making a pre-swim handshake. As silly as these activities may seem to you, they contribute to an enjoyable atmosphere for your child to grow.
If able, bring snacks for the team. In doing so, you will be able to meet some of the other swimmers and their parents. The more you can help foster the swimming community, the more supported your swimmer will feel.
In the end, what makes a goal important to your child is how you encourage and support them in reaching their goal. Celebrate each time a goal is achieved. Afterwards, many more goals can be set to keep improving the growth of your child’s swimming. Stay positive and know it will take time. If your child becomes negative, try turning those “I can’t” statements into “I can’t YET” statements and follow up with encouragement. Your child’s growth will naturally follow.