Updated: Mar 2, 2020
The Seal Team Times
Pardon my crying...
A lesson for ISR parents on creating the best lesson experience for your child
by Kristine McCarren on June 2, 2019
Crying is by far, the number one concern I hear from parents before and during ISR Lessons.
Think about when your child takes a minor tumble on the grass:
If you gasp, run to him, pick him up, coddle him, say "It's Ok" 84 times, what do you think his reaction will be? He will cry, carry on, and think "that hurt so bad!" It may even begin to hurt! Then, most likely, you'll continue to comfort him, and he will continue to carry on.
If you glance over to see if he's truly ok (he's fine), continue to go about your business, and play with him as you were before - chances are (depending on your previous history of reactions), he'll continue to play as he was.
As parents, we can subconsciously manipulate our child's behavioral patterns, as can our children do the same for ours. What we say, do, and how we react to our child's emotions will dictate how our child reacts to situations. Do we coddle our children when we put them in their carseat - tell them "it's ok" 84 times until they stop crying (but really, cry more)? Do we rub our child's back and say "I know, I know" before we put sunscreen on, because we know "they hate that"? No! - Well....at least I hope not. If you do - stop now!
So when your child cries while he's walking to the pool, and you hold him close, rub his back, and tell him it's ok, (84 times) or "it's going to be ok, you love swimming," think about the message you are sending him. He's not clinging to you because he's truly fearful of getting in the water. He's clinging to you because he's getting a reaction from you, and it feels good to have your back rubbed! ISR lessons are work - maybe if he cries, he won't have to work, and you'll keep rubbing his back (he will have to work anyway, but he'll KEEP TRYING to get you to rub his back)
So, how do we change a behavior? By changing.... or removing the response to that behavior. Make swimming lessons just as normal as brushing your teeth in the morning, just as normal as grabbing your child's hand before you cross the street; just as normal as eating breakfast in the morning, reading a book before bed. We don't talk about these things all day, or reassure our children how much they "love these things". We do it, regardless of their reaction, and then we do it again tomorrow.
So when I lay your child on his towel after lessons, tell him he did a great job, but don't tell him "next time, no crying." Dry him off, pick him up, get him dressed, get a sticker, and strap him in the carseat. And do it all again tomorrow.
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