Why do your kids swim? There are lots of possible answers to this question, and for most kids it is a combination of reasons. One essential reason should be because they want to and they love it . All too often, unfortunately, it is actually because mom or dad love it and will do anything to keep them in the pool. It is honestly shocking how often parents force their kids to swim because they have a passion for it while their kids would much rather do something else. So here are some signs that your kid is just not that into it….
They don’t have any goals of their own. Most swimmers have goals and dreams. Whether it is to break 30 seconds in the 50 free, to move to the next practice group, to make the cut for a special championship meet, to break a team record, or to someday swim in college. Swimmers at all levels should have goals and dreams. The question is. who is setting them? If it is always the parent or the coach rather than the swimmer himself/herself then you’ve got a problem. If a swimmer doesn’t ever take it upon themselves to look to the future and want more out of their swimming it is a sign that maybe it is really not their thing. No amount of parental goal setting will replace a swimmer’s desire to improve.
You have to bribe them to perform. If you have to offer rewards to get your kids to swim fast at meets or go to practice…you are very likely doing more harm than good. Kids who love the sport want to do well because they find value and fun in getting better, and/or the like to win. If the only thing that motivates your swimmer are prizes unrelated to the sport (candy bars, trips to the amusement park, extra screen time etc..) then chances are your kid doesn’t actually want to be there. And trust me I’ve seen it before…the parents that use bribes have to keep coming up with increasingly elaborate bribes and before you know it neither your pocketbook nor your relationship with your child can afford the price of bribes anymore.
They are never disappointed. Nobody likes to see their kids disappointed, but it is a part of sports just like it is a part of life. Kids will aim for a goal and fall short, they’ll lose a race, get bumped off a relay, miss the cut for a big meet etc… It is normal for your swimmer to feel the sting of disappointment. In fact it is important that they do, because it shows that they care, and it motivates them to work harder at the next practice. If you find that you are more upset than your kid is, or heaven forbid that you feel that you have to supplement your disappointment in place of their own by punishing them for a bad swim (BAD IDEA!!), then maybe swimming is more your thing than theirs.
They don’t want to go to practice, and if the do go they’ll look for any excuse to get out. Everyone loses motivation from time to time. It is perfectly normal for a swimmer to occasionally need an extra nudge to get up for the early morning practice, or to want to stay home and goof off once in a while. As parents it is our job to remind them to stay focused. However, if you are fighting with your kids about going to practice on a weekly basis, or if they are constantly coming up with an excuse to get out of practice there is something more going on and it is time to have a talk with your child. There maybe a number of reasons for it and one possibility is that swimming might not be their thing anymore.
They don’t miss it during the off season. Every serious swimmer I’ve ever known has always looked forward to the off season, until the off season actually starts. Most swimmers are itching to get back in the water within a few weeks or less of a season ending. They might not miss the early mornings, or the hardest workouts, but they do tend to miss the water, the competition, and their teammates. If your kid isn’t asking when practices start again, and isn’t bugging you to take them to a pool in the off season, you may want to make sure they actually want to sign up for the next season before you shell out the money.
They refuse to do things they know will make them faster. Does your kid’s coach repeatedly tell them to do a flip turn or other skill during races and they refuse to do it? Do they slack off in practice, or not want to move up to the next level of practices because they don’t want more challenging workouts? These maybe signs that your swimmer might be starting to fizzle out in their desire to be in the sport. It could also be other things too…but if you see these behaviors along with some others from the list it might be time to double check with your swimmer before you head to the next registration day.
They tell you they don’t want to swim. This seems like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many kids flat out tell their parents they don’y like swimming anymore but their parent twists their arm into it anyway. If your swimmer says they don’t want to do it anymore, take it seriously and talk with them. It’s possible it might be something else…a social issue, a carry over from a particularly harsh disappointment, but it also could be they honestly just don’t enjoy it anymore. Sometimes kids need to take a break for a while and realize they miss it…or maybe they won’t and they’ll find something new to love.
Now obviously I think swimming is a wonderful sport for kids, in fact 6 of my 7 kids are now or have been swimmers, so I’m not trying to convince you to have your kids blindly quit. However, it is a tough sport and it isn’t for everyone. If you feel like you have to work hard to keep your child interested in the sport, maybe it is time to consider other options. The free time your child has outside of school is so limited, make sure they are spending it on what makes them happiest.