By Kerin Morgan, owner Morgan Swim School, Richmond, VA
Every parent desires for their child to turn out even better than themselves and grow to be responsible, caring and kind adults. Parents can train from birth and if purposed about it can produce children that are both morally responsible and able to learn in an orderly way. We are convinced at MSS that parents directly affect the learning curve a child has. We also believe that parents do not need to randomly facilitate learning and wait for the child to learn by trial and error, but rather parents can create opportunities for them to learn. At MSS we help parents understand that learning is both restrictive (what not to do) as well as instructive (what to do). Both are training in self control and if applied consistently can decrease the need for correction. For example before 2y/o Johnny goes to the store with mommy, if mom warns him in the car what his boundaries are what she expects of him then she will have the potential for less conflict in the store over him doing the wrong things. If she consistently warns and gives consequences when he breaks the boundaries, then she will eventually have a child that practices self control in the store and will avoid the hassle of a 3y/o roaming and touching.
In our lessons we recognize that we must help the children gain self control in water. As a result we define the boundaries we have for the children and we gently hold them to the standards we set. Water offers natural consequences so we rarely have to impose a consequence beyond repeating a skill. There actually must be external controls until the child is mature enough to have internal controls. I remember a mom asking me once, “you do not really expect a 3 y/o to have self control do you” and my response was that absolutely I did and if not all the way there, they are in training to that end. A child schooled in and learning self control makes a better student who can focus, obeys rules, handles their emotions, and is more teachable than the child captive to their emotions and impulsive desires. Self control is a teacher that helps a child control his tongue, his actions, his wrong emotions and in turn teaches him to make sound judgments, be non offensive, walk in integrity, and be a more peaceful child.
True freedom is actually a paradox because true freedom is the ability to be content with less freedom. For a child to enjoy the freedom he has, he must give up some freedom. For example we trained our children to sit on a blanket. (We did this up to 2.5) We could then go anywhere and have the baby sit on the blanket while we were having a meeting or just needed to work with the other children. I actually used it when we taught in our backyard. The baby was given two toys and stayed on the blanket for up to an hour. (Of course we started with 15 minutes and worked our way up) This taught the baby to focus and to learn to be content.
Siblings were not allowed to play with them, it was their alone time. The beauty of it was not just the convenience it was to me but more importantly the baby’s ability to be content and focus and entertain themselves for an hour! The fruit later there in life was children able to sit still for extended amounts of time while we read together at night (novels not picture books), sit a long time at an office or able to focus on school work even if other activity was going on around the home.
In your child’s’ lessons, we will train them to know they have boundaries, such as seeking permission in order to enter water, or swimming with their hands a certain way… Some are restrictive and some are instructive but all are with the goal of helping your child be a learner and succeed in this vital area of their lives.