Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dealing with Bad Behavior in Swimming Lessons? Part 4

Last time I talked about how:

Punishment must be age appropriate

Praise Lots


Reward good behavior

Now I would like to finish this series with:

Don't reward bad behavior
Despite my misgivings about those who minimize praise on children, you can over praise: in that if you praise children even when they are misbehaving you are just sending the wrong signals. I had one child that was bought to me that every teacher in the whole swimming school was struggling with. I soon discovered why.

The parent praised the child for absolutely everything. I had a chance to talk to the mother and explained how she was over praising. I thought that we were making progress until one day when the young boy had been particularly feral, I explained to the mother that she was not to get him his usual ice cream on the way out.

The child was most upset but had started to toe the line in class.

After the swimming lesson I saw the child and mother leaving. The mother said "you have been such a good boy today so you can have your ice cream after all".

The next day the child was worse. Remember what I said about following through: this would have to be the worst kind.

So the lesson is clear, praise lots reward good behaviour and don't reward bad behaviour. In fact if you are doing a good job at praising and rewarding good behaviour you can usually afford to ignor bad behaviour altogether: provided of course you don't ignore unsafe practices.

Recognizing that a good swim teacher sees everything, for safety sake, even if you are ignoring it; a child may misbehave in order to get attention and more often than not if you ignore it, it looses its point and stops.

Having said that, remember we are talking about the swimming pool, children will often do stuff that to their mind is not misbehavior.

Which brings us full circle to what I said at the start of this series.

So to sum up we have talked about:

That you have to distinguish between bad behavior and fear and how you can do that.

We have also talked about how:

The Punishment must fit the crime
The Punishment must be pool appropriate
The Punishment must be age appropriates
You must Praise lots
Reward good behavior
Don't reward bad behavior

I realize I have only touched the surface on the subject of discipline in the pool. There is a lot more that could be said and I hope will be said in the comments. It took me many years of working with children, raising 4 boys and 3 grand children to learn what I know now about discipline and what I know could fill a book.

On the other hand what I don't know could, I'm sure fill at least fill several books but I hope that for now I have contributed significantly to the discussion.


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