Rebecca learned to swim. This is a pretty big deal, because for the past several years the girl has refused to get her face wet. Last year she would do a cursory bob in the water, but for the most part pools were for walking in and not swimming. She would get all decked out in her pool attire. Goggles, noseplugs, and even tried to convince me to get her a bathing cap and the she would play around without once getting her head in the water.
This summer had been a little better. She would hold her head under water while she plugged her nose, but there was no attempt to make any swimming progress.
Until vacation that is. The first two days she was content to dog paddle with a noodle under her belly. Swim noodles are forbidden at the local pool so the novelty of having one in the lake was spectacular to her. Then on the 4th day she started floating under water. If you don’t think this is a huge deal, let me repeat. She went floating underwater. The girl who refused to get her face wet all the sudden started floating in the water without anyone prodding her to!
She was so proud of herself and excited that she had figured it out. It reminded me of when she started reading. One day it all just clicked and then she was reading. I had been starting to worry that she wasn’t ever going to progress beyond bopping around in the water. I got a lot of advice from moms that suggested just letting her go and one day it would happen. And it did.
I am glad I rode that one out. No amount of swim lessons has ever given her the confidence to swim more than giving her access to water and time to practice.
But it leaves me with a question of whether or not I should lead Rebecca to try new things. Rebecca is a typical first child and is afraid to try new things. Especially if she thinks she may not do it perfectly. While she is now swimming underwater, she refuses to jump off the diving board or to go down the water slide. She won’t even try to ride her bike since we took the training wheels off. I know letting her go and swim without pressure encouraged her to swim, but I find myself wanting to “encourage” her more strongly to learn to ride her bike or jump off of the diving board.
So, do I continue this trend and just let her discover things on her own, or do I insist she try new things? I don’t want to be one of those moms who make their kids do things they aren’t ready for, but I also don’t want to be an overly accommodating mom who never pushes her kid to do anything? But I have this vision of Rebecca being an adult and not knowing how to ride her bike or never knowing the joy and exhilaration of jumping off the diving board. I spent a lot of my adulthood being too afraid to try new things, and I don’t want her to have the same regrets.
What is your opinion, to push or not to push? What tried and true ways do you have to get your kids to do things they think they CAN’T do?