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Power Parenting: Do’s and Dont’s for Swimmer Parents

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“At the Beijing finale, Michael had hesitations coming back. And you know what? I couldn’t make up his mind for him. I just didn’t want, if he didn’t go back, to be sorry for what he could have done or what he wanted to do. But I had to keep my mouth closed, to a certain degree. Because it wasn’t my decision, it was his decision.” — Debbie Phelps, Mother of Michael Phelps (most decorated olympian of all time)

“You’re there to support your kids; you see them work and sacrifice day in and day out … but it makes it all worth it in the end.” — Rick Raisman, Father of Aly Raisman (silver and gold medalist in gymnastics, 2016 Rio Olympics in Rio de Janeiro)

“I never tell Sarah to win because I want it. Sarah has to win because she wants it.” — Joy Robles, Mother of Sarah Robles (bronze medalist in weightlifting, 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro)

WHO SAYS SWIMMERS AND COACHES ARE THE ONLY ONES NERVOUS AND EXCITED DURING COMPETITIONS? WHO SAYS SWIMMERS ARE THE ONLY ONES GASPING FOR AIR DURING EVERY RACE? Let’s zoom out our lenses a little bit the bigger picture. Look at the bleachers area, look at the resting spaces – you’ll capture sight of parents cheering, carrying sports bags, and taking photos of their kids. It’s quite amazing how they, despite their hectic schedule, continue to be with their children in competitions and trainings. Perhaps one of the most difficult yet satisfying job on earth is being a parent. Imagine having no day-offs. Imagine trying to be positive for kids despite undesirable outcomes during competitions. At the end of the day, they’re not just parents. They are cheerleaders, they are emotional healers, and they are each child’s top supporters.

Yes, parenting is not as easy as 1, 2, 3 but here are some tips Swim Philippines can share to super mommies and daddies out there now that it’s the season for intense summer trainings and successive competitions.

DO PROVIDE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT
There are times when swimmers really try hard yet competition outcomes do not go as planned. They may run to you while crying and ranting about what they would’ve done. As parents, provide support by calming them down and being with them during tough times.

DO ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILDREN
Encourage them to go swimming regularly. Show them that you are with them. Cheer for them! Don’t forget to ask them about trainings or competitions. This way they will start sharing and will be more eager to do better.

DO FIND TIME TO BE INVOLVED
Volunteer in team preparations and be a team player. Cheer for your kids and their teammates. If swimmers see their parents more often as they go through their swimming career, they will feel more motivated which can then lead to success.

DO ALLOW THEM TO BE INDEPENDENT
Let them prepare their own stuff and get ready for practices or competitions. This will foster independence which will turn them into confident, resilient, and self-reliant individuals.

DO TRUST AND RESPECT THE COACH
Let coaches do their job. Trust them. It’s okay to ask about your child but do this before or after training so they can give their full-time during practices in providing guidance to the swimmers.

DON’T PRESSURE YOUR CHILDREN
Setting goals is not bad but it is not advisable when goals translate into unrealistic expectations. It is part of a child’s nature to impress their parents. Pushing children too much on what you want them to achieve may have negative effects on their performance.

DON’T COMPARE THEM TO OTHER SWIMMERS
Let them be who they are and don’t let them feel failure. Just let them compete with themselves and do their best effort. Winning and beating other swimmers must just come out as a price of hard work.

DON’T ENCOURAGE THEM WITH MATERIAL REWARDS
Try to avoid practicing material reward system. Swimmers must always keep in mind that they swim because of the positive things they get out of swimming.

DON’T DELVE INTO NEGATIVITIES
There are times when you may encounter spectators who have nothing good to say about the swim meet. Stay away from any negativity and enjoy being a swim parent. Have fun and treasure every moment.

DON’T IMPOSE WHAT YOU WANT TO YOUR CHILDREN
Allow them to decide for themselves. Support them in whatever choice they make. Through this they will learn that every decision has impact to their lives. This will hopefully turn them into smart independent individuals.

Stephanie Ledesma

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