Thursday, February 19, 2015

Overcoming Fears

Recently I went to watch my next neighbor teach swim lessons to toddlers.  Not only was I shocked and amazed at her confidence and resolution as she continued to calmly  rotate screaming kids in and out of the pool, I was mesmerized, traumatized and completely emotionally exhausted by the time I left the water sports parking lot.

I started to think about fear and how we deal with our children's feelings.  Do we indulge their fears, do we release them screaming into the water, or is there a middle ground?  
The truth of what I witnessed is that the kids all had a moment of acceptance and eventually learned to swim.  Was the fear still there? Yes, definitely, but with each little triumph you could see a glimmer confidence replace the fear in their eyes.

As a sat there, lesson after lesson and talked to the parents, I wondered if I could have handed over my child as she begged for her life not to let her go.  All of the feedback was the same, the kids left with a feeling of accomplishment, the parents left confident that if their child ever fell into a pool or lake, they would survive and I left emotionally drained questioning my beliefs about pushing kids through fear.

I realized after I left with much soul searching, I don't think I could  have handed over my screaming child. I have complete respect for the swim coach and the parents who chose this program.  I, however, prefer a more natural approach where we allow our kids to face their fears at their own pace with a gentle nudge.  Both styles come from a place of support and love with valid reasoning behind the choices.  Everyone has their own style of learning and every parent has their own ideas about how to raise children, what I took away from the experience was that  no matter your parenting style, teaching our children to face their fears, is a great way to build their confidence.

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