Swimming lessons provide a great physical outlet for kids, along with the benefits of increased water safety, swimming confidence, social skills, and mental strength. But the classes themselves aren’t the only time for these rewards to be cultivated. If you’re wondering how to build confidence in kids, there’s a lot that you, as the parent or caregiver, can do.
Noticing, Rather Than Simply Praising
There’s been somewhat of a backlash in the media about praising kids in recent years, with many experts taking the stance that excess praise causes children to be dependent on external validation. No matter where you stand on this issue, we can all agree that children crave our attention. One of the most effective methods for showing kids we care is to simply be present with them.
Watch them as they try their hardest in swim class, instead of catching up on text messages. Look them in the eyes and tell them you’re proud of the effort they put into class, rather than immediately hurrying them to the car. You don’t have to praise them with a generic “good job” in order to make an impact and grow their confidence, but you do have to show them you’re there and you’re noticing what they do.
Celebrating Effort & Milestones Together
Many child development experts recommend praising a child’s effort in achieving something, not the outcome of it. This is because their effort is something within their control, while the outcome isn’t always. Give this a try with your child’s next swim class.
After their swimming lessons, say, “Bailey, I noticed how hard you worked in class! You kept trying that backfloat even when it was hard.” This shows your child that you were giving them your attention, and that their effort is what matters most.
When your child does achieve an important milestone, it should absolutely be recognized. Remember to bring the conversation back to their effort. “Elliot, you earned a ribbon because you’ve been focusing in class and working hard to improve your skills!” or “Jasmine, I’m so proud of you for taking third place in your swim meet. You were committed to your practices and gave this meet your all, and it shows.” This type of recognition gives young children a boost in self-esteem, and it helps them connect the dots between their effort and the outcome. Most importantly, it allows them to feel good about what they did rather than it being all about making you happy.
Your little swimmer needs your encouragement and support, but most of all, they need you. There’s no replacement for your time and attention, and this is truly the secret of how to build confidence in kids. Contact us if you’d like more tips or to enroll in our learn to swim program!