You’re nervous. Your child is nervous. But it must be done. The gentle nudge in those hard parenting moments when you know, you have to make your child try something again that maybe they failed at or are trying for the first time.
When I was little, my parents sent me to swimming lessons in the summer. It feels like I was in a class of 20 kids to 1 teacher, but it was probably more like a 5 to 1 ratio. I was in the beginners class and just trying to figure out this swimming thing. The teacher has us holding on to the side of the pool and doing simple things like flutter kicks.
Apparently I did not like to follow directions and drifted away from the side of the pool. Before I knew it I was sinking and then trying to kick my way up to the surface for some air. This seemed like eternity before my sister saw me and got the teacher’s attention. Needless to say this scared me half to death! I was allowed to sit out for the remainder of the class.
The next day we got up and were talking about what we were going to do today. I remember the anxiety building up in me as my mom told me that we had swimming lessons AGAIN! Nooooooooooo! I screamed in my head.
In that very moment my mom looked me straight in the eyes and told me that I needed to get back in the water. She also told me that she would leave work to come to my lesson to watch me. I sheepishly hung my head and said “ok.”
It’s swimming lesson time. The teacher has talked to me about hanging on to the edge of the pool and that she will be right next to me the whole time. I look up to see my mom sitting in the stands clapping for me and cheering me on. So, I do it. Back into the pool I go.
What I found out later is that the swim teachers told my mom that I HAD to get back in the next day otherwise I would be scared of the water. So even though she wanted to protect me, she pushed me to return to the pool and get back in. This was important to her as my mom’s parents allowed her to quit swimming lessons when she would get fearful of the water. My mom did not want me to have the same fear that kept her out of the water and sitting on the shore.
To this day I still have some anxiety when I dive in too deep and expect the top of the water to be there as I come up and it isn’t. But I also am not afraid to be in the water. I think back to all those summer days at the lakes, while growing up in Minnesota. I have such great memories with friends. I know that I would not have had those experiences if my mom didn’t push me.
As uncomfortable as it is, sometimes we need to be strong and step outside of our comfort zone for our kid’s benefit.
Is there something in your child’s life where you need to give a gentle nudge of encouragement to them?