So my 5-year-old son is taking swim lessons. He’s a funny, happy, smart kid – and also pretty cautious. It’s great that I don’t have to worry about him taking flying leaps off of playscapes and such. But as a big swimmer myself, it’s starting to get painful watching him be so tentative in the water while other kids his age and younger are jumping in off the edge of the pool over and over.
This weekend I finally got him to jump into my arms. He seemed to like it and we did it a few times (meaning before he could protest I had him back on the edge, arms out for him to jump into). The last couple times I confess, I pulled my arms away so he could see that jumping into shallow water meant that he could immediately stand himself up after jumping in.
Anyway, after a bit he didn’t want to do it anymore. And I kept pushing. And I got frustrated. He had already DONE it. Just get up there and JUMP! I could feel myself getting annoyed, and I’m sure he could too. I finally just told him it was time to go – we’d been there for awhile and had to get moving anyway. I gave him the option to stay 5 more minutes if he’d jump in on his own. And he wanted to, but he stood on the edge thinking and worrying and stressing and never made it. I tried everything – telling him I’d not let anything happen, reminding him he already did it, telling him it was ok to be scared, but it wouldn’t be scary once he did it a little more. UGH. He ended up crying and we ended up going home.
I’m not sure if this was an example of bad parenting. But it is an example of me not knowing at all what to do. And as he gets older, this whole parenting thing gets more challenging and I feel like our risk of scarring him goes up exponentially. And this fear – my strong reaction to it is probably because it’s one of the things I see in myself and don’t like. And I want to smack it right out of him so he doesn’t have to deal with it. Probably not the best approach. But I don’t want him to wait until he’s in his late 30s before he starts figuring it out. Hmmm.
I suppose that for now, the best thing is to just keep catching him so he knows we’re there.