Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Training that sticks

My kids are taking swimming lessons this week.  They seem to be having fun.  The teenagers running the local program are enthusiastic and competent.  I have just one complaint.  One little girl has screamed at the top of her lungs for forty-five minutes, two days in a row.  I do not fault the teachers.  I do fault her mother.  Why would you EVER let your child scream in horror in the arms of  stranger for all that time?  Do you really think she is going to learn to be a great swimmer because you insisted on her completing this task to her absolute objection now?

As a side note, if you you are thinking of swimming lessons, I would highly recommend that you personally take the time to help your child feel comfortable holding on to the side of the pool, in a depth over their head, and happily dunk themselves under water on command before you take them to class.  This did involve some bribing in our case, but now both children love to go under water.  We also invested in some goggles.  

I was, and continue to be, frustrated by the mom who sits insistently by while her daughter mourns the expectations.  Then I realized that I was her.   After we arrived home and ate lunch, we commenced our morning "responsibilities" which we had missed due to the swimming lessons.  I found myself rushing my children, insisting that they finish putting away the dishes and laundry now.  They began to object, and I steeled my resolve.  Then, I realized: I am no better than the mom at the pool.  My goal for my kids was a good one, but my method of obtaining it was not.  Is there a reasons they must hurry?  Why can't putting the dishes away be fun? So, when my son asked where the bowls go (as if he doesn't know!), I responded with, "Under your pillow."  He laughed.  "With the plates?"  More laughter, "With the bowls?"  And it was done.  

Having fun took longer. If I wanted the work done quickly, should I not just do it myself?  If my objective is to help my children learn to see responsibility as a joy, I should do what I can to make chore time a happy time.

 I am looking for suggestions.  How do you make chore time fun for yourself or for your kids?

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