Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dealing with Bad Behavior in Swimming Lessons? Part 2

Last time we talked about how we should

"Distinguish between bad behavior and fear"

This time I want to discuss how:

Punishment Must Fit the Crime


Punishment Must be Pool Appropriate  

Punishment Must Fit the Crime
At some point all swim teachers have to acknowledge that discipline in a swimming class is not the same as outside the swimming pool.

For example: outside the swimming pool you may use a naughty corner as your primary discipline method of children.

If that is the case you would specify that a child of 4 years of age would spend 4 minutes in the corner for a punishable action or 5 minutes for a 5 year old etc. When you have a half hour lesson trying to get a child to stay on the edge of the pool, even for three minutes for a 3 year old is like asking a bird not to fly: you are going to spend most of your lesson maintaining the discipline and not concentrating on the class.

The attraction of the water is so strong that the temptation to get in, is going to be overwhelming. Not to mention that your student's parent is at some time going to be disgruntled, especially if you have to repeat the discipline and if you have to ask the parent for help you loose your credibility.

Punishment Must be Pool Appropriate
With all this in mind personally I opt to only have a child out of the the water for 30 seconds at a time when I punish them form misbehavior. Thirty seconds is usually more than sufficient for the vast majority of misbehavior because the act of removing the swimmer from the pool is a big deal for them. The loss of face in front of their classmates and removing them from the fun and pleasure of the water usually have very sobering effects in themselves, given that you are removing the child from something they enjoy in front of their peers.

More than that it doesn't matter how old the child is, 30 seconds still works because of the draw of the water is usually so strong the children do not want to be out of it for any time at all.

The beauty of a 30 second removal from the pool is that it is repeatable and not only is it about 90% effective, with the possibility of it being done again it is a deterrent. Doing it repeatedly means that often the parents see this happening and they get involved: thus increasing the effectiveness to say 95% and avoiding the potential of the parent’s wrath because the child is not getting their lesson and the child is getting too cold.

Once you have established the rule however you must follow through. The best way to undermine discipline is to not follow trough with what you say or to be inconsistent with your follow through. "Do what you say and say what you do" and never give more than two warnings if that.

Next time I want to alt about how:

Punishment must be age appropriate

and that we should:

Praise Lots


Reward good behavior


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