We’ve all been at that pool party where our one friend won’t leave the steps of the shallow end. Mortified and chagrined, that lonesome kid always has some kind of story why he or she doesn’t know how to swim. So instead of having your kids become the one who won’t leave the steps, consider why teaching them to swim is more helpful than just learning how not to drown.
Swimming Builds Self-Esteem
The article Developing Self-Esteem, published by the Seattle Children’s Hospital, March 2012, Michelle New, Phd, expresses the wisdom in developing self-esteem early.
“It’s wise to think about developing and promoting self-esteem during childhood. As kids try, fail, try again, fail again, and then finally succeed, they develop ideas about their own capabilities. At the same time, they’re creating a self-concept based on interactions with other people. This is why parental involvement is key to helping kids form accurate, healthy self-perceptions,”
Red Cross Water Safety Instructor, Colleen Hammon — who has taught many children in her 30 years of instruction — also feels swimming is a great for self-esteem.
“When the children learn that they can swim and float by themselves, they develop great pride and a wonderful feeling of accomplishment,” Hammon says. “As their skills improve, their successes also improve providing more feelings of self worth. There is something very special in bringing a child from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I did it!'”
Swimming Teaches Sportsmanship
USA Swimming states “swimming teaches the life lessons of sport and sportsmanship which include learning to deal with winning and losing, as well as working with officials, teammates and coaches.”
The idea of participating in sports is not for everyone to receive a feel-good-trophy, but for children to create positive attitudes and experiences for themselves and everyone around them. This concept is so important in life and athletics, the Nemours Foundation for Kids Health has dedicated many publications to the topic.
Hammon, who has attended many swim meets in her tenure, says, “If you have ever been to a swim meet, you see the swimmers cheering each other on to do their best. There is a sense of pride for the team even if you are not the winner of a race.”
Swimming Helps to Conduce Coordination
It is commonly known kids who lack coordination have a difficult time with basic skills such as catching balls, riding bikes, writing letters and learning to read.
In some cases, children may have Developmental Coordination Disorder.
“Development Coordination Disorder is diagnosed when children do not develop normal motor coordination (coordination of movements involving the voluntary muscles),” according to the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. “The disorder can, however, lead to social or academic problems for children. Because of their underdeveloped coordination, they may choose not to participate in activities on the playground. This avoidance can lead to conflicts with or rejection by their peers. Also, children who have problems forming letters when they write by hand, or drawing pictures, may become discouraged and give up academic or artistic pursuits even though they have normal intelligence.”
There is no one set therapy to help children who lack coordination, but sports such as swimming can help.
“Swimming requires a lot of coordination,” Hammons says. “The arms are doing one motion while the legs do another. Coordinating the breathing with the arms and body motion is an important part of the whole stroke. Even moving the arms at a speed different from the legs requires a great amount of coordination.”
Aqua therapies — such as swimming — have been used to enhance the lives of children with autism, wounded warriors, and those with balance coordination disorders.
Swimming Promotes Socialization
“When children become swimmers, it opens a whole new playground for them, ” Hammon says. “They can play freely in the pool with their friends without having to be afraid of the water. I love seeing their joy when they are just having a great time in the water — diving down for toys, jumping from the side of the pool into the water, racing each other, or just clowning around.”
The friendships made during childhood years can have the ability to grow into life long, loving relationships if we teach our children how to interact with each other appropriately and respectfully.
“In a few years, the medals and ribbons will be laid aside and best times will be a hazy memory. The friendships that will develop and the life skills learned will carry on for a lifetime,” USA Swimming.
Swimming not only provides kids with life skills which help to achieve success, but it also provides them with the ability to make a pool or ocean into a playground.
“My greatest joy is being able to take a child who is fearful of the water and turning them into swimmers who can enjoy the water where ever they are,” Hammon says.
To find out more about swimming check out USA Swimming.
Featured photo credit: Kid Swimming/Marin Resnick via flickr.com