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Being a parent is so hard. There is no textbook. There is no right or wrong way. There is no way to know if your efforts for a specific situation are going to fall flat. There is no way to know. But, there are do-overs. Do overs in parenting, you ask?! You bet! I try a tactic, try another and another. Somewhere along the line something sticks and works well. Then, guess what? It stops working. Back to square one. Trial and error. What worked yesterday might not work today. And what works today, might not work tomorrow. Parenting keep us on our toes, that’s for sure!
Caroline can float. Hands down she can do it. But she’s stubborn and she doesn’t want to. There’s this balance that has to be had- respecting her anxiety and comforting her, while also challenging her and having high expectations.
Caroline also has anxiety around new people. We had several weeks of no class due to holidays, missing class because she was sick or we were out of town, a substitute instructor here and there, and then a change of instructors completely. All of this change certainly didn’t help when it came to Caroline’s progression (or lack there of) in swim class. I’ve mentioned this before… she’s been at this level (Seahorse), since August.
She needs to be floating on her own before she moves up. And with every disruption, no matter how small, she’s not been pushing herself as hard. She’s been more focused on her own anxieties (with new people and situations).
So, when I received the phone call that the SpringHill Suites location was no longer being used, and that we’d need to reschedule her class at another location, I knew it was time for a change in expectation as well. We’d been letting her just go with the flow. Encouraging her, but being understanding- possibly too understanding. I knew I needed to get her motivated as we made this change!
I chose our instructor very deliberately. Kimmie is someone that Caroline knows. She’s had lessons in the pool at the same time, she’s played with Ms. Kimmie before, and she’s even interacted with her out of the pool at the Rio Grand Opening recently. She is a familiar face, and she’s great with the kids. She has an energy about her that is undeniable. I knew it was just what Caroline needed.
When we saw Kimmie on Caroline’s first day, we talked about Caroline’s progress and our plan to move her up to the next level. Kimmie agreed that we needed to kind of rip the Band-Aid off so to speak and get things moving. I gave her the green light to work hard with Caroline and make this happen!
We both got Caroline excited about the prospect of a new yellow swim cap, a new level, and a new big girl class! Caroline sat opposite in the pool from the big girl class that she’d be soon joining. We even had the girls in that “big girl class” show her their excitement. Our unspoken tactic was just that- excitement!
The first day it went great. Caroline did a few seconds on her own. She worked great with Ms. Kimmie. The next week, however, was a bust. Mama apparently set too high of an expectation. On the ride over, I told her this was the day. I knew she was going to do it! We were going on vacation and about to miss two weeks of class, so I knew it would be great timing. I was trying to pump her up on the ride over.
Fail. Major fail. LOL!
When we got there, Caroline was not excited. Not even interested in participating.
She was fighting everything suddenly, not just the float. She had every excuse in the book, and wouldn’t do anything without me practically holding her hand (which is hard to do when I’m not in the pool). It was quite the disaster of a day! She was throwing fits down to the very last second of class, and not even working with me to change her.
Ms. Kimmie was great through it all. She tried to get Caroline laughing, and while my stubborn girl didn’t give in to her attempts, she did get Caroline to do a few practice skills towards the end. She did better than I would have anticipated. Knowing how stubborn my strong willed girl can be I was very impressed.
I think my next tactic is going back to a reward system. Back when lollipops were given out, it was a great incentive for us to use with Caroline. Basically our message has always been that “If you listen and try your best, you can have a lollipop.” It’s a really simple, easy motivator, and once a week we certainly don’t mind her having a treat like that.
Our message is going to change, however. She still needs to listen well, but she needs to try her float independently in order to earn her reward. I’m hoping that this will be motivation enough to get her going.
The thing with Caroline, and probably many toddlers- is that she doesn’t do things until SHE wants to. She is little miss independent (when it comes to ideas). She’ll plateau for weeks at something, and then suddenly master a skill like she’s been doing it forever. I’ve seen it happen at both swim and gymnastics. So, I’m waiting for that day to happen with her float. Because I KNOW without a doubt, that the day she decides to do it, she’ll do it with ease and it will look as though she’s been doing it forever. That’s just how she is.
One of the really great parts about British Swim School (and getting to write this blog), is the chance to get to know the instructors better. So, this week, I bring you an interview with her current instructor- Ms. Kimmie!
Interview with Ms. Kimmie:
How long have you been a swim instructor with BSS?
I’ve been a swim instructor with BSS for a year and 4 months.
How did you learn to swim?
I don’t remember learning to swim. When I was 2 weeks old, my parents had me in the pool, and I’ve been doing swim team since I was 5.
Why did you choose to become a swim instructor?
I chose to become a swim instructor because I love kids, and I used to teach kids at my pool how to swim.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is interacting with kids, knowing that I’m teaching them to save their lives, and showing them how much fun swimming is.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is making my students and their parents happy.
How would you describe your style as a swim instructor?
My style of instructing is to have fun and make the kids happy, but also to be firm and understanding.
Do you have any advice for parents who are hesitant to put their child into swim lessons?
I tell parents that are hesitant, that it’s better to start them earlier than later. Knowing how to swim can save their child’s life.
How do you handle fearful children in class?
For the fearful children, I build trust before I do anything with them, and show them how much fun the water can be.
How do you make the class engaging for young babies and toddlers?
For baby and toddler classes I just become silly and play to keep them engaged.
As a parent, I’ve noticed that everyone at BSS really works as a team. How would you describe the team mentality?
BSS is a family, and we would do anything and everything for each other.
What does a typical work week look like for you?
I work every day except for Mondays. I work twice on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. I teach all levels from tadpole to barracuda swim team.
If you had the chance, what’s the one thing you’d tell all of your student’s parents?
You’re kids are amazing and will remember this skill for the rest of their lives.
Would you recommend BSS over another swim program?
In a heart beat! We are unique, and safety is our #1 priority!
Enrollment Special 20% off
If you live in Montgomery County or Frederick County, Maryland, and are interested in signing up with BSS, I am really excited to announce that you can receive 20%
off your first 4 lessons when you call to enroll and use the code #MAMAS18. The information for our central Maryland British Swim Schools can all be found at this link. And not to worry if you live elsewhere, there are British Swim Schools ALL over the US!
Other Posts of Interest:
British Swim School- Tadpole class (level 1)
British Swim School- Swimboree (level 2)
British Swim School- Seahorse (level 3)
British Swim School- An Interview with Caroline’s Instructor (Christine)
Teaming Up With British Swim School and Comfort Cases- Volunteering with a Toddler
British Swim School- Seahorse Class Update and an Interview with Jared
British Swim School- A Focus on Safety First
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