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5 Bad Habits of Poolside Parents

5 bad habits of poolside parents

According to swimming teachers, these are some of the most annoying bad habits of parents on poolside. How many are you guilty of and how can you turn it around?

1. Wearing shoes:

Let’s face it, pool floors can be pretty grim. They’re wet, often dirty and you’ve got enough things to carry never mind taking off your own shoes as well. It won’t hurt if you just nip across to the seats in your outdoor shoes?

The problem is, everyone thinks they can get away with just nipping across, so you end up with quite a lot of dirt around the pool, which does make its way into the water and into the mouths of people swimming in it.

Turn it around:

Put a cheap pair of flip flops in your child’s swimming bag and wear them on poolside. It’s all part of swimming to teach your child about pool hygiene and why you must change your shoes. Alternatively, next time you’re at the pool and you see the box of blue overshoes, take an extra pair and tuck them into your child’s swimming bag for next time. Don’t throw them away at the end of the lesson, give them a quick rinse at home and pop them back in the bag ready for next week.

2. Waving and encouraging your child from the spectator area:

You want to be engaged with your child’s lesson and you want to help them improve. Giving them a wave from the spectator area or doing a few encouraging arm actions can’t be a bad thing?

It is not uncommon for a swimming teacher to look up and see a balcony full of parents all doing their own stroke demos! The problem is, the kids, eager as they are to please mum or dad, get so distracted that they are not focused on what the teacher is trying to communicate. Teacher demos are very specific, often showing children how to refine their stroke. If the parent’s demo is not the same, then the communication gets muddled and the child may end up doing it wrong. Sometimes, children can simply be distracted trying to get their parent’s attention and spend ages waving at them, completely oblivious to the teacher who is asking them to do something. This wastes so much lesson time!

Turn it around:

Make it clear to your child that you are interested in their swimming and will be watching them during the lesson (make sure that you do!) You can wave once at the beginning of the lesson so that they are reassured you are there, but during the lesson you want to see that they are focused on the teacher. Don’t keep waving back mid-lesson. If they are doing something well, then either smile or, if it isn’t going to be distracting, you can give them a thumbs up when they’ve finished the skill. If they keep looking over, then point to the teacher to remind them who to focus on. If they continue looking over, then avert your eyes and pay no attention. Instead of giving encouraging demos, simply observe what they are doing and identify where they are struggling so that you can discuss or practice at home.

3. Letting children run riot:

Children who are either waiting for their lesson to start or not swimming themselves (younger siblings perhaps) can find the poolside environment hot and noisy. They may find it very difficult to keep still (age 3 and under especially!) Children who are waiting for their lesson to start may recognise school friends in other classes and may be eager to chat to them or distract them during their lesson. Some parents let younger siblings wander over and play with (or wander off with) some of the floats or pool toys that the teacher has laid out to use in their lesson, which is unfair on the children in class who then cannot practice the skills the teacher had planned. Often, parents can become distracted by carrying lots of bags, catching up with another parent or talking to the teacher, not realising that a younger sibling has wandered off or is reaching down into the pool to feel the water. Sometimes, parents allow younger children to walk around the poolside because it is difficult to keep them still in a chair. It might seem ok as long as you are keeping an eye on them, but honestly, if they did fall in the water, are you really going to jump in fully-clothed to rescue them? Not all swim lessons have lifeguards in attendance and whilst swim teachers are qualified in water rescue, they can’t simply leave a class full of kids on their own to go and rescue a younger sibling who has toppled in at the other end of the pool (or a parent who has jumped in to rescue them!) If swim teachers notice a younger sibling wandering around poolside, they will have to stop their lesson and remove all children from the water until the risk (wandering younger sibling) has been made safe. This is of course disrupts any lesson going on.

Turn it around:

It isn’t easy to keep a toddler still for half an hour. Try and think of some games to play to keep a younger sibling amused. Play I Spy with things around poolside, see if they can identify colours of objects or count things. Bring a book to read. Point out what children are doing in their lesson and see if the younger sibling can copy the actions, whilst sitting on your lap. Hold their hands and guide them through the front crawl or backstroke arm action. Get them to practice blowing or kicking. See if they can make a star shape, or a pencil shape. If they really won’t stay still, what about using reins or a wrist strap so that they can walk around in a safe, out of the way space in front of you, without any danger of them wandering near to the water. If you have older children who are waiting for their lesson to start, then instead of distracting their friends, ask your child to observe and analyse what their friend is doing. Identifying stroke faults can really help children to improve their own swimming. Or, talk to them about their own upcoming lesson, what they are going to work hard at and what things they are looking forward to doing. It is always important to reinforce water safety, so teaching children of any age that it is not safe to be near to the water unless they are having a lesson is helpful.

4. Filming

It is so tempting to sneak your phone out and take a little video of your child swimming. If you hold your phone right, it might just look like you’re texting, nobody will know! Especially if this is the moment your child swims independently for the first time.

“No filming” rules are there for a reason. Even if you’re only interested in showing your partner or the grandparents privately, you are still capturing other people’s children on video. You are also capturing the swim teacher on video and they may not be comfortable being filmed in a state of minimal clothing. Once a video has been taken, even if it’s sent to a friend or family member privately, you have lost control of that video. You cannot control what someone else does once you’ve shared it and they may put it up on social media. In any case, other parents may not be comfortable with a video containing their child in a state of undress being stored on another person’s phone, no matter who they are.

Turn it around:

If you are eager to get a video of your child swimming, just ask the teacher or swim school. They may be willing to arrange a time at the end of the lesson for you to film your child when there are no other children around. If more parents are interested, they might even be willing to put on a separate session for everyone to have a chance to video their kids, all done properly with appropriate consent forms. Otherwise, just watch and enjoy the moment, you don’t always have to capture everything on camera.

5. Talking to the teacher

Obviously if you have a concern about your child or you want some advice on how to help your child improve at home, it is really helpful to speak to their teacher. However, swim lessons often run back to back with no time in between. A “quick chat” can easily eat up 5 or more minutes of a lesson, which, for the rest of the group, is 5 or more minutes of wasted money.

Turn it around:

Some swim schools have a separate member of staff available to oversee all lessons and to chat with parents. If not, then mention to the teacher that there is something you need to discuss and leave them your phone number so they can call you later. If the teacher is not authorised to contact parents directly, then you can share your concerns or ask your questions to the swim school manager who will liaise with the teacher before giving you advice.

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