Practice Good Parenting at the Pool
The family pool is a great place to spend quality time with the kids. But parenting doesn’t stop when you walk out to the pool. Since there are inherent issues with large bodies of water, take time to consider how to keep your kids safe, and also be a good parent, while they are around the water. Here are some ideas:
Model the behavior. Kids watch their parents constantly. If Dad is running along the side of the pool during a game with the kids – what does the child learn from that? Make sure to model the behavior you want the kids to emulate while around the pool. Of course this is a wonderful time to spend with the children, and a big part of that is having fun, but Dad is a parent first, and being one of the kids just isn’t prudent. Settle down and be calm around the pool, and the children will pick up on it.
Establish the rules. Children will need to understand the rules like “no running,” and have defined limits at the pool. Before going outdoors, establish the rules you want the children to follow, and what behavior is unacceptable. Make it clear that there will be consequences for not obeying those rules, such as a timeout or loss of pool privileges for a time. If there is a possibility of being sent in the house for not complying, and the kids know those consequences will be enforced, they will be clear about the boundaries. The thought of sitting indoors listening to their friends screaming with joy out by the pool will really get their attention.
Constant supervision. If the parents are hosting a pool party, and talking to their friends while kids are in the water – that’s a setup for bad things to happen. Designate one parent to watch the children at all times. That doesn’t mean chatting on the cell phone, running inside to prepare snacks, or doing anything else. That means watching the kids at all time, and not leaving them unsupervised.
Engage your children. If one of the kids performs a great trick on the diving board, they really want Dad to acknowledge it and give feedback. “That was a really cool trick, James!” The pool can be a special bonding place, so take advantage of it. All too quickly they will be off with their friends and you will miss the times you had together. Take an interest in what the kids are doing at the pool – they will love it, and you will find it rewarding.
Give them space. Sometimes parents hover over their kids at the pool, and try to direct everything they are doing. Let the kids have the space to play games on their own, and make up their own entertainment. Kids are developing their creativity while they play, so sit back and watch that happen. The kids will want to report their successes, so do listen when they tell you all about the great new game they have devised. But if the kids are completely engrossed in their play – just let it continue. They are learning independence, and how to interact with their friends. As long as they are obeying the safety rules you have established, let them play.
With something as fun and enjoyable as a family swimming pool, it’s a fine balance to allow the children to enjoy the experience, but also provide a safe environment. When one of the kids walks very carefully along the side of the pool, just smile at the successful parenting that indicates.
Kaitlin Gardner writes for AnApplePerDay.com. She currently lives in Pennsylvania and is married to her best friend. In her spare time, she loves to go hiking and enjoy nature. She has just started her first book about living an eco-friendly, healthy, natural lifestyle.
*Photo credits go to Pixabay Public Domain Photos