We all know that it’s important that young children become familiar with water. There is more than one reason for this. The first reason is to teach them basic water skills.
That way, should they find themselves in the water unexpectedly, they will know what to do and be that much less likely to panic, meaning that they are much safer than children who are not familiar with water. The second reason is that sports of any kind improve fitness and overall health. The third reason is that most water sports are an awful lot of fun.
How do you choose a water sport for your child?
Most people, when choosing a sport to encourage their child to pursue, look at the sports they enjoyed themselves as a child, but there is a better way, which takes into account your child’s physique and psychology. Depending on which sport you choose, your child may develop in different way, which means that you can guide your child’s development in this way. For this article we will consider two very different water sports: rowing, and swimming, and consider why a parent might be wise to choose one of them.
Rowing: Teamwork is key
Is your child having problems with teamwork? Does he or she always need to be a special little snowflake? You might consider enrolling your child in rowing teams. Rowing is the essential team sport. In almost any other team sport, one person can carry the team, but in rowing, if all members of the team are not doing exactly as they must, the whole team will fail.
Consider the oars. If the rowers do not row in perfect unison, the oars can become fouled, and the boat will progress slowly, not progress at all, or even capsize. Rowing is not the place to showboat, to try to be the best, or to act out. Rowing instils discipline and teamwork. Rowing is the ideal team sport for a little one who needs to learn some lessons about teamwork, doing one’s job, and working together.
The other benefit of rowing in teams is that it teaches skills that can later on be used solo, for example in a kayak, where your special little star can have his moment to shine without any teammates getting in the way. It’s also excellent for upper-body development, and builds strong shoulder and back muscles.
Swimming: it’s all down to you
On the other end of the spectrum from the special snowflake, you will find the mouse. This child disappears into a group. They are excellent at teamwork, but terrible at taking the initiative, and they may have trouble accepting praise. Swimming is a wonderful sport for this child to pursue, since it is one of the most solo sports around.
Consider: If two members of the same team compete in a swim meet, they may be in the same team, but they are essentially competing alone. In swimming, victory or defeat is almost purely on the shoulders of the individual swimmer. There is nobody else to take the blame, and nobody else to take the praise either. This is an excellent sport for the child who needs to learn about relying on oneself and accepting praise and blame where it is due instead of deflecting it onto others. Swimming is one of the best sports for general physical fitness, and the value of being familiar with water and able to swim cannot be overstated.
Remember to take the child into account
Some children, of course, may just not be temperamentally suited toward some kinds of sports. There is always the possibility that your cripplingly shy daughter will refuse to appear in a bathing suit in public, and that is of course her right – forcing her to take part over her objections is not going to do either her, or your relationship, any good in the long run. Some children develop a fear of water – forcing that child onto a boat or into a pool is very unlikely to help, and may in fact cause serious harm.
Never underestimate the damage a meltdown in public can do to a child’s mental health. If your child is firmly set against the entire idea of a water sport, consider the whole thing a learning experience and move on, because forcing a child to take part in any activity if they actively dislike it is a losing proposition. Once your child has some basic familiarity with water, a whole world of water, river, and ocean-based sports will open up before them, from which they can choose as they grow up.