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In the swim of things

July 11, 2008

Yesterday, I took the day off to watch Little IT at a swim meet.  She’s on a summer swim team that our swim club sponsors.  It’s a great thing for many reasons.  It meshes well with her summer camp, where they don’t really move or get out much, but since the club is located right next to the camp site, they walk the kids back and forth so they can do both.  It ends up being a free hour long swim lesson with some really good coaches.  It’s great for building confidence in the kids, and it’s super exercise.  I myself would jump at doing it if I was Little IT’s age.

Little IT, however, did not want to do it this year.  There were a lot of reasons given, none of them that really resonated with me.  I’m certainly not one to push her into doing anything, but I couldn’t see a downside to doing the team.  One of her big issues was missing time at camp.  Apparently, some other kids last year would complain that she wasn’t there for certain activities and would make her feel bad because she missed them.  She also brought up wordworking, which she could do for the first time, and would take place at the same time as swim team. 

I decided to try something different, for me at least.  I offered a bribe.  I even called it a bribe.  My feeling was that if she decided to go for it, she was ok with it and just needed an extra push of confidence to try it.  Sure enough, she jumped at the bribe.  I told her that if she lasted the 3 weeks of practice and made it to the first meet, it would be a go.  And she did.  She’s made it to 2 meets even.  Truth be told, the first week was the worst.  The brother of a friend of hers who swims competitively on a year round team told her that he dreads the first two weeks of practice each year because you’ve had time off, are not used to the sport, and have to, sorry, get back into the swim of things.  She stuck with it, and she’s gotten some 2nd place ribbons, which she’s very proud of. 

Am I advocating bribery?  Sort of.  If it’s something your kid is never going to want to do, like Lacrosse is for my kid, it’s not worth it.  If it’s to encourage the kid to do something that you’re reasonably sure they’re going to like, and it’s going to give them extra motivation to get through the task, yes, do it.  I have a neighbor who did the team last year and was bribed financially by his uncle – $5 for a win, $3 for second place, etc.  He applied himself, and walked away with a lot of blue ribbons.  I’m not sure I would have gone that way, but my kid is different.  If that motivated her, maybe I would have tried it.  Net net, she’s getting good exercise, improving her swimming, and most of all having fun.  And I get to see her swim – nothing beats that.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 12, 2008 2:42 pm

    Bribery is an essential parenting tool. Last basketball season my son’s team lost the first five games, the kids were getting depressed and really not enjoying being the league’s “easy win”. A friend bribed her son with $5 basket for one game, but he had to make a minimum of 3 baskets. His average went from 2 baskets a game to almost five, and the team go really fired up by his sudden high performance. They still lost most of the remaining games, but that one parent’s bribe made the season more enjoyable for the whole team.

  2. July 14, 2008 3:36 pm

    I vote for what I call “reinforcements” rather than bribes. Bribes work.

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