10 Commandments for Parents
1) Thou shalt not make this about you. It is easy to lose yourself in the excitement of competition, to get caught up in feelings of your own past athletic glories and shortfalls. This time, however, the moment belongs to your child. Don’t allow yourself to ruin his or her moment by projecting your own needs onto the situation.
2) Thou shalt not coach, motivate or bribe. You pay your money to a coach because he or she is qualified to do the job. Allow the coach to work effectively by granting him/her authority on the sport. Swimming is a very technical sport, which should not be taught by those without specialized training. Your coach has worked hard to become an expert in this field, and parents should resist the temptation to throw their two cents in on technique. The result is that the coaches will form a very close bond with and understanding of your child, and this understanding gives them great insight into the motivation and discipline of your child.
3) Thou shalt love unconditionally. It is crucial that your child understands one thing above all else – that your love for him/her does not in any way depend on his/her performance. There is already plenty of pressure in trying to get the swim right at the moment of the big meet. If you throw in a sense that “mom or dad will be mad if I blow it,” then failure is almost inevitable.
4) Thou shalt follow the same rules of sportsmanship as thy child. The best advice on sportsmanship is quite simple; “A champion takes victory and defeat in the same way.” Lead your child by example, and put a swift end to gloating and other forms of poor sportsmanship by showing that you won’t tolerate it in yourself or your child.
5) Thou shalt not compare or divide. Comparing your child to other athletes on the team or in the meet is unhealthy and pointless. Success is a journey, not a destination. Every child will take a different path, will learn at a different speed, and will arrive at a different kind of success. Before you become concerned about who is outpacing your child, ask yourself “Is my child having fun? Is he / she learning? Is this a positive thing for him / her?” If the answers are “yes,” you have nothing to worry about. This sort of comparison mindset leads to divisions within the team, and animosity among parents. Don’t fall into this trap.
6) Thou shalt take criticism straight to the coach. Any concerns or questions about the programme should go straight to the coach. Discussing and complaining in the stands with other parents is a waste of your energy, and won’t fix the problem. It also may plant seeds of discontent in the parent group, which is bad for everyone. It is also helpful to remember that these things always seem to get back to the coach anyway, and the grapevine is a very inaccurate way to communicate. Help to improve the team by talking directly with the coach.
7) Thou shalt teach thy child to find the lessons in failure. Once again, success is a journey, and failure is a teacher. In life, we are taught the same lessons over and over until we get the message and learn the lesson. Swimming is a sport that is made up of 90% failure. If we teach children to see failure as an opportunity for growth, we empower them for life.
8) Thou shalt help thy child to persevere. Because there is so much fear involved with Swimming, a child may wish to drop out of the sport rather than face the next new challenge. This often occurs after a Swimmer has taken time off at the end of the season or at Christmas time. Children rarely understand the value of delayed gratification without guidance from an adult. Our culture is so preoccupied with instant gratification that it is even more critical to teach the value of hard work and sacrifice for greater rewards. Talk to the coach if you see your child becoming overwhelmed by fear, or becoming reluctant to go to practice, these are usually problems that can be solved through communication.
9) Thou shalt get thy child to training on time. Success in Swimming depends on consistent practice habits over the entire year. Poor attendance leads to fear, frustration and poor performances.
10) Enjoy the ride. Swimming is a unique sport that can serve to teach your child many valuable life skills. Take time to share this unique experience with your child, and have some fun while you’re here