Wednesday, April 13, 2011

You Can Do It!

I'm not big on saying "good job" all the time. I feel like it comes out of people's mouths a lot and loses its meaning. Plus, I think as parents, it is so easy to get excited when a child does something new or does something right and praise them in the same way you would if they just ran through the finish line of a marathon. Don't get me wrong, I praise my child when it is appropriate, but I don't say, "Yahoo, yay, you did it, you ate your lunch!" I think if I did she would either wonder why that it is such a big deal today, or think I just went batty.

I remember reading an article in the Times about how when parents over-praise, it has the reverse affect on the kids. If they hear "good job" as they are trying something, then they feel that it isn't nesesarry for them to continue. They got the praise they needed and they are done now. I think encouragement is a more positive way to go than praise for me, but I am questioning how I can do that most effectivly.

Pinball loves the water, but despite very gentle and fun swim classes the past two summers, she can't swim. I wanted to put her in a more intensive swim program in which the kids go under and actually swim at the end of the class this year. Specifically, the Water Whisperer is one that I heard amazing things about. I knew she could do it, but she was scared. Her little friend is an amazingly brave little swimmer. She jumps in and goes under. She is a good influence on Twiggy but there is only so much she will try with me. So I signed her up and we are on day three. So far, I am impressed and conflicted.

She is taking it with her two friends, and on day one she was the first one in the water, but the minute the teacher took her in she looked to me, pouted, and said, "I'm all done, Mommy." I responded that it was okay to be scared and to keep trying because you are doing really well. Two out of the three of them were hysterical at this point so the staff instructed us to step outside the gate to let them establish a relationship and so that we didn't distract. From there she freaked, then calmed, then swam, then cried, "I want mommy", and continued those in a loop until the end of the lesson. She was then handed the lollipop she was bribed with. My friend, whose son was with her and howled like a ailing dinosaur, was granted two lollipops for his bravery. He was really not happy in the water.

It has gotten better but today, day three, the dino was whining a bit but really swimming, and Twig cried on and off but is also really swimming. The other child is really a fish so all she does is happily swim. Yesterday, all three of us moms cried along with our kids from behind the gate. Our tears were tears of joy when we saw them get passed their fears and succeed to swim. We were like non-ticket paying ballgame fans shouting, "You did it!" through the fence. It's a pretty intense experience for all of us. We want them to succeed so badly, but we also don't want them to cry along the way. My friend said to me yesterday that everything they do can't all be fun. I agree, and it is a big life lesson to wrap your head around that one, especially at two and a half.

I watched today as my daughter so tentativly took instruction. At times, she even told the teacher she didn't want to do it, to which they told her to be brave and try. When she accomplished something she was rewarded with hugs and praise from the teachers in a way that seemed totally earned in that moment. The lollipop is an added bonus that will gladly be granted to her at the end of each class. I'm not saying "good job" to her though when she successfully knocks off her sucker.

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