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I was talking to my sister the other day and she says to me, “So what are you going to do about this swimming situation with Dylan?”

She was of course referring to Dylan’s refusal to actually get in the water during her weekly swim lessons. But in case you’re keeping tabs, her skills at sitting by the pool are coming along beautifully.

“Oh, I didn’t even blog about all of it!” I tell my sister. “Last week, she hid under the bed for 45 minutes before we left for the YMCA. She was screaming that she didn’t want to go. I told her that if she wanted to be successful at hiding, she should be A LOT more quiet.”

My sister is due with her first baby in January so she is now starting to wonder what a parent is supposed to do in these kinds of sticky, high stress situations.

“Are there any parenting books that tell you what to do?” she asks.

“Yes, absolutely! But I don’t have anytime to read them.”

I actually did buy a parenting book this summer called, “Parenting with Love and Logic” by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. A relative noticed it on my bedside table and inquired whether I might already know how to parent since I was on kid #3 and #4.


Well, I guess I do know how to parent. I just would like to know how to parent better.  With less yelling. Less frustration.

This past summer, I read the first 76 pages of “Parenting with Love and Logic” and it’s all about giving children choices and letting them live with the consequences as long as it’s safe for them to do so.  That way they learn how to make good decisions and we don’t spend our time constantly butting heads with them.

For example, if your kid doesn’t want to wear a coat and it’s cold outside, let him or her not wear a coat. When they complain about being cold, show sincere empathy for their situation (no “I told you so”) but don’t rescue them by pulling a jacket out of your bag. Let them shiver this one out. Next time around, they will likely grab their coat without you even having to remind them.  That sort of thing.

Unfortunately, there is not a chapter on how to make your child participate in her swim class.  I know I’m supposed to offer her two choices, both of which I can live with. Like maybe… “Honey, you can either get in the pool this week or mommy is going to push you in.”

That’s probably not what the authors had in mind –  despite the fact that my daughter can doggy paddle very well and she loves the water. I’ll have to keep thinking.

There is another swim lesson this Thursday. I’m really beginning to hate Thursdays.

33 Responses to i still need to take parenting 101

  • Elissa says:

    yes – we went through the same thing – any new class and my daughter becomes a shrinking violet. her first week in ballet she sat on my lap and watched. Her 2nd week i told her she didn’t get the candy at the end if she didn’t participate. she’s 2 1/2. at the end of the 2nd class she came out beaming with candy in hand “i participated.” now she loves it – but i do feel like maybe i should have been a little more understanding instead of worrying about the $25 i was spending on the class. oh well. she’s fine.

  • Jordana says:

    I love hearing about a book which advocates what I already do – at least with the coat example. People look at me like I’m crazy (which I’m used to) but I figured no upper east side kindergarten kid ever died of not wearing a jacket, or hats, or gloves, or pants…okay maybe I’ve gone too far.

  • Jennifer says:

    My girl hated swimming lessons. She wouldn’t let go of me, or when she finally got into the water, wouldn’t let go of the teacher. Maybe “get in the water or you have to change all the diapers for a month.” Win-win for you.

  • Great post! Because what we need is not a general book on parenting style (although those are good) but books that address the specific issues (my kid will only eat peanut butter, she won’t go to swim class, he’s afraid of giraffes…). Maybe that stuff in the index…?

  • Kathi says:

    My daughter learned to swim with the local “swim nazi’s”. Classes are 1 on 1, and the parents are NOT allowed at the classes. The teachers are very loving, but very strict. Perhaps the classes she is attending are not appropriate for her. Maybe you should look around to find different methods of teaching. She might need more strict classes – and if you find ones that you do not attend – bonus. (It is amazing how much better our kids behave when Mommy is not around)

  • Becky says:

    We must have the same daughter!!! I went through this myself but my daughter is a little bit younger then yours. See if you can get her private lessons. This way the teacher is only focused on her and Dylan has no where to run. She may need a few of those until she is comfortable in the water. Once she feels good about it she will probably do better in a group class. If she is like my daughter she is fine in backyard/playing around pool time but in the class situation she is shy and won’t put her big toe in the water. She needs a little confidence to help her along. Good Luck!!! 🙂

  • Oliver is just like me when it comes to digging in his heels and not doing whatever it is he doesn’t want to do. So I feel for you. Any kind of “lesson” is cause for much anxiety (for me – not him since he’s just not doing it). Sounds like it’s the “have to” of the situation that’s making her balk. I can relate to that. As for a solution? No idea. I generally wave cookies around, but I realize that few of the book writing experts support that method.

  • E says:

    Love and logic don’t seem to work so well in our house. The forced choice seems to do better (with consequences). Maybe table swim until summer? I made my kids wear hideous floatie things in public and told them they could take them off when they could swim. Swim class motivation really improved after that.

  • Daphne says:

    It’s all about the swim teacher — at least for us that was it. The push-over teen-aged girls were no match for my youngest — one dose of tough love and now she’s on swim team and loving it.

  • Kelly says:

    It helped my daughter to have a friend take the class with her; somehow, peer pressure outweighed fear of water/class issues and the two learned to swim very well by “competing.” Maybe not the healthiest or best approach, but it worked for us!

  • Suzy says:

    My mom and Dad had a fear of water which they passed down to me so thanks for that.

    One summer they sent me to sleepaway camp. One of the activities was swimming and of course I was terrified. I kept holding on to the edge of the pool and the counselors KEPT STEPPING ON MY HANDS.

    Needless to say I didn’t ever have to go to sleepaway camp again.

    I have less fear of the water now. But I still aint going in!

  • I’m a “If you’re going to cry, I’ll give you something to cry about” mom, but without the beatings. If swimming proficiency is important to you, then she has to go. Talk to the instuctor for the okay, then buy treats for all the kids that participate. Private lessons are a great idea if the swim teacher isn’t a pushover.

  • i remember i never wanted to swim either, my mom made me go by telling me that all the other kids in my class knew how to swim, and I was going to be the only one that didn’t so then they would think I was a baby and woudn’t play with me. Well, I ran to the pool after that.

  • Can you throw her favorite toys in the water and compel her to save them?? That may be more traumatic than pushing her in, come to think of it. I think I got that from the book on my bedside table, How to Alienate and Frustrate Your Children.

  • Accidental L&L Mom says:

    My advice: Take your daughter to a Saturday open swim. Put her in arm floaties and tell her she can’t leave the baby end of the pool. She’ll see the other kids her age swimming all around the pool without the floaties. Tell her they’ve had swim lessons they’ve earned the right to swim freely. Then give her the choice, she can continue her lessons or quit them but if she quits its floaties and baby pools until she’s tall enough to reach the bottom with her head and shoulders out of the water. No deep end ever. Worked for my daughter, the last thing she wanted to be thought of was a “baby”. And the deep end had a tempting water slide. Good luck!

  • Aunt Marcia (Guess Whose?) says:

    Trying to force your kids to do something that’s really not essential is like trying to teach a pig to fly. It’s a waste of your time and only annoys the pig. Surely you have more important things to do with your time.

  • Nicole says:

    But what if your kid has no memory of the day before? They will never learn 🙂 I hear you with the swim lessons…I remember the teachers assuring me they were trained to handle this kind of thing – hah! gave up after 10 minutes 🙂 Grandpa worked wonders for us too, though.

  • Cheryl Pope says:

    I am still laughing about the pushing in the water remark. You are right about parenting: we can always learn how to be better ones. I took a Love and Logic Training through a parenting organization called Detroit Parent Network. It helped with giving my son choices. He learned s lot, as well:)

  • Elle Vee says:

    @ Aunt Marcia– the thing is is that swimming is absolutely essential if your kids are going to be around water at any time growing up or as adults! Swimming should be a life skill as far as I’m concerned.

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kelcey kintner