The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

Swim Lesson Rules

Keep in mind that when teaching kids swim lessons, that children will actually feel safer when they know what the rules are, especially in new or exciting situations.   If a child is scared, they will have a hard time having fun.  So when you kindly, but firmly give children rules or boundaries and let them know it’s to keep them safe, you start building trust.

Discipline is the gift of responsible love.  Discipline and rules and punishment are related, but they are not the same.   Discipline is  the continual everyday process of helping a child learn self discipline.  No child is born with it.  It has to be taught.

Disciplining a child “includes” making rules or “setting limits.”  Good ones have these characteristics in common:

  • Serve a purposes
  • Within a child’s capacity
  • They are consistent
  • They are express a concern and/or ensure safety.

What do you do when the rules are broken?  First, I want to stress the importance of showing appreciation for what children are doing well, because this is often more effective than the punishment.   But when you do have to punish, here are some do’s and don’ts:


  • React irrationally
  • Retailiate with force
  • Verbally abuse the child himself


  • React with a calm, firm reminder that you don’t approve of the behavior.
  • Remind the child that there are consequences for unacceptable behaviors
  • Be understanding (in some cases) but certain behaviors still warrant consequences

Reasonable consequences  in a Swim Lesson :
1.  Warning (with reminder that the next consequence will result in time out of the pool)

2.  Time Out (with reminder that the next consequence will result in you and child having talk with parent)

3.  Talk with Parent (with suggestion of further revoked privileges at home).

At home, you usually hear that time outs should be about “1 minute per year old.”  For swim lessons, however, I usually go with about “30 seconds of time out per year old” because the parents are paying for the lesson AND 30 seconds out of the pool probably feels much longer than a minute to a child who likes the water!


Love is at the root of all healthy discipline.  The desire to be loved is a powerful motivation for children to behave in ways to please you.

There are many other swim lesson techniques that will also have a huge impact on the child’s behavior.  For example, the way you use feedback, the way you allocate practice time, the way you minimize downtime (when kids, especially boys,  get into trouble), your class management skills, etc.  Learn more about these in the Swim Lessons University Instructional DVD “You Can Teach Like a Pro !”

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August 23, 2010 at 7:00 pm Comments (0)