Sports and physical activity, like swimming, are an excellent way to build confidence in kids. It gives them independence, teaches them about success and failure, and moulds them into a confident little swimmer. Swimming is often a solo activity and is a skill that kids can learn at a young age. Learning to float, dive, and tread water on their own helps in instilling the idea that they can accomplish anything with hard work. Here are 7 tips on building confidence in kids:
1. Let Them Make Decisions
2. Model Confidence Yourself
3. Allow and Facilitate Play
- Underwater humming
- Fishy in the middle
- Starfish tag
- Swimming through legs
4. Allow Them to Learn from Mistakes
Whether it’s a float that just won’t last or a dive turned belly flop, allow your kids to reflect on what went wrong and practice it again. Refrain from telling them exactly how to fix what went awry and encourage them to figure out the correct method themselves. Children learn from mistakes, gaining confidence and resilience. Neither you nor your child should be afraid of failure. Embrace failure as a process, no one is perfect – mistakes lead to self-assessment and adaptation. A trial and error approach builds confidence in many different ways while providing children with the social and emotional building blocks to cope with life. Your child will learn how to trust themselves, how to control frustration and anger, how to get out of their comfort zone to try new things or do things better.
Moreover, try not to instil shame when your child makes a mistake, they will associate making a mistake with anger and disappointment which may discourage them from trying to fix the mistake. Think about a time or an experience that made you feel anxious about getting things wrong, this can help you avoid creating the same worries for your own children. You want to instil in them that they can navigate the pool and the world on their own.
5. Help Them Set Goals
- Hold your breath underwater for 10 seconds
- Swim from point A to point B (ask your child to swim to you from the stairs)
- Sit on the pool floor
- Jump into the pool
- Tread water for 3 minutes
- Swim 5 laps in the shallow end
6. Encourage Them
It is crucial to let your kid know you believe in them, while also communicating that you will not be disappointed if they are not ready. As a parent, your role is to support your child whenever they are ready to try again. When children feel in control, they feel strong and confident.
7. Praise Perseverance
Swimming is challenging and it is important to recognize how much effort and time your child is putting into learning to swim. Celebrate progress!
Another study conducted by Carol Dweck found that kids should be praised for effort rather than intelligence; as praising them for intelligence makes them less likely to persist in the face of challenge. The study discovered kids praised for their intelligence became discouraged by their mistakes and thought of themselves as failures. Children praised for their effort, worked very hard despite making mistakes along the way. Intelligence testing found kids praised for their intelligence dropped by 20% while children praised for their effort increased by 30%.
A great way to celebrate progress is by documenting it! Think of growth charts, as your child grows over the months and years you measure them and add another notch, higher than the last. Take videos of your child’s learning process so that you can both look back on how far they’ve come. Your kid may not realize how much progress they’ve made until they look back and can see for themselves.
To Sum Up…
The key to building confidence in kids is patience and support. The independence, confidence, decision-making and lessons about success and failure gained from swimming are invaluable to the development of children. These tips will help you prepare your kids for the future.