How to Get Your Son to Behave at Swim School

This technique allowed me to perform a simple miracle.

The Problem:

Every Saturday I take my 4-year old son to swim school. He loves it, but I stress about it. My son is spirited, active, and easily distracted and he is constantly testing his boundaries. He does crazy stuff just to see if I’ll stop him. I try to teach him self-control and one way I do this is by telling him that if he wants to go to swim school he has to respect certain limits – no splashing other kids, to wait his turn, not to throw toys in the pool, etc. I give him one warning and if he continues we leave swim school. I had to leave twice, but after that he stayed within the limits and his swimming improved. But recently it got complicated.

My son is smart and sensitive but he’s also controlling and he looks for any opening to control a situation. I think he does it sub-consciously. I know this is a positive trait, but only when it is channeled properly. He isn’t mature enough to be in control all the time. A few weeks ago his goggles were loose and water got in his eyes, so we had to stop the class, adjust his goggles, and he received oodles of attention. Once he saw this opportunity to get attention, he began to have problems with his goggles every five minutes, disrupting everything. This went on for three weeks. Last time I told him his goggles fit fine and if he kept complaining we would go home. He complained and we went home, which created a scene. On Saturday we talked about his goggles before class. I made sure they fit perfectly. I made sure he knew we would go home if he began to complain. Please understand I’m using the word complain loosely. His complaining is really a complete emotional meltdown or temper tantrum. It’s extremely disruptive and extremely stressful. Well, about five minutes into the class, he started to complain about the goggles fitting incorrectly. I checked them again; they were fine, and I warned him that we were going home if he couldn’t control himself. But he continued about the googles, and I could visualize an emotional breakdown any second. He started to bawl, my stress mounted, and I was about to pull my son out of the pool and take him home.

Then I thought about something Charles Haanel wrote about energy in chapter three of The Master Key System. He wrote that our connection with the universe and the infinite travels from our conscious mind through our solar plexus behind our stomach. He wrote when our solar plexus is free and open it receives energy from the infinite and allows us to channel it into our consciousness. I believe he is right. When I am stressed, I get a restriction and tightness in my solar plexus and my energy level plummets. I was experiencing the tightness and restriction. I could feel it like a knot in my chest.

This is what I did:

Right there, in the middle of a busy swim school, I closed my eyes and visualized my son swimming and happily playing in the pool. I mentally closed out all other stimulus. I focused on my breathing and eliminating tightness in my solar plexus. It was difficult and it took a few minutes of concentration and I may have looked like a nut to all the other parents, but it worked a miracle.

This is what happened:

As my tightness eased so did my sons emotions and once the tension in my solar plexus was gone, the entire reality in front of me had changed. The teacher moved to a new exercise, my son was engaged, and he enjoyed the rest of the class. He did so well the teacher decided he should move up a level.

If someone would have told me a story like this a few years ago, I would have said they were nuts. But I know what I saw, and to me it was a miracle.

I’ve never been into meditation, yoga, or anything like it, but doing these exercises is opening my eyes to the potential power of yoga.

This post was submitted to the Carnival Of Family Life. There is a lot of great stuff there. Check it out.

7 thoughts on “How to Get Your Son to Behave at Swim School”

  1. Steve,

    I can relate to the stress you felt not wanting there to be another scene. And then to have the scene change so ‘miraculously’ … It’s these kinds of events in our lives that have the most impact over whatever we read about. But it would never happen unless we ‘give it a try’.

    Thanks for the story,

  2. Wonderful post. “One step at a time, one person, one conscious reality, and so on” is what my wife reminds me of daily. Best wishes.

  3. I learned lamaze during pregnancy and still use it whenever I’m stressed or full of tension. It’s amazing how focusing inwardly can change your surroundings. Nice post.

  4. Way to go dad. A+ for you on multiple levels. Swimming is one of the all-time BEST activities for a child like you’ve described. It saved me with my high spirited and controlling daughter. ;o) And the acknowledgement of our stress affecting the situtation for good or bad is so important! Thanks for sharing!

    Holly’s Corner
    Here via the Carnival of Family Fun ;o)

  5. I know of a few parents at my daughter’s swimming class that could benefit from your post! LOL! I’m glad it worked for you!

    Here via Carnival of Family Life.

  6. Tremendous post, Steve. I too, have a 5 year old son, who is very bright and sometimes likes to control situations. He is a young champion though, I can see it in his eyes. He actually told me, Dad, Im gonna win the World Series someday. And of course, I encouraged him about believing in oneself and having faith in your goals… Kids are such an amazing thing… and such an amazing challenge.

    Sounds like you are doing something right! Raising kids is tough, but wow! Isnt it such a rewarding experience?

    Much love-


  7. Steve,

    As a non-parent, but one who tends to work well with children almost universally, I would like to point out that in performing these exercises, as your son had a tantrum, and as others were probably providing attention, you were not outwardly reacting to his tantrum. Which, in turn, probably led all the others in the pool to turn their attention back to the teacher. Which deprived your son of the attention. This probably had a lot to do with his change in behavior.

    That being said, I am aware of how perceptive the average child is. Your tension may be enough to cause him to react. His reaction may be unconscious, but if you look at a child that acts out consistently, I think you’ll see a similar correllation to the parent’s attitude or reaction. I know I watched this cascading effect every time my parents (or I, for that matter) and my younger brother clashed. Child does something, parent reacts, child reacts, parent…ad nauseum.

    But perhaps I’ll talk to you again once I have children of my own with some adjusted attitudes…

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