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"You are my teacher. How you deal with love, conflict, sorrow, joy, pain, defeat, new things, people, variety, the way you believe in yourself, in others and me will also characterize me and shape my approach to all this and more."

It's a swindling thought but also great because it allows us adults to take the lead. When we become aware of and take responsibility for our own feelings, reactions and actions and focus on the quality of the dialogue and the relationship we are the best role models for our own and others' children. It's more about our self-development than on our ability to manage and control our children, and children give us the opportunity to self develop.

Jesper Juul, family therapist and author puts it as follows: "I do not think there is any relationship that at the same time is so accepting and provides personal development as the relationship between parent and child." Leading experts and researchers in neuroscience confirm and state that: "Self-development is the best gift a parent can give a child."

In the wonderful presence and joined play that water offers you and your baby, I know that the process gets a good start and it will become a both thrilling and delightful course.

The risk of drowning scares many parents. And driven by fear parents can enroll in or try to “waterproof” their children through methods that causes trauma. Trauma is nothing you want your child to experience because it will have a lasting and damaging effect on its sensitive and developing brain.

Dear parent I don't write this to scare you. The anatomy of fear makes us unable to think and act as we would do when we are calm and sane. What is important is that you are aware of the risks when your child is in and around water. That you are aware of what you can do and do it. And I want you to be aware of quality when you enroll your child in a swim school.

Swimming is an education for life

On the blue planet where we live water covers most of the surface and therefor it is wise to let your child learn how to swim and practice swimming. It is an education for life. It can save your child's life, or someone else's for that matter. But learning to swim, enjoy water and feel confident is not a quick-fix and can and should not be forced.

The goal does not justify the means

The practice in the methods I am referring to that can cause trauma is to repetitively dunk an infant or a child under water and roll them over on their back to float. This continues until the child himself can roll over and stay afloat independently. During classes children cry helplessly for their parents help. With the remarkable adaptivity children are capable of even if they are hurt they eventually learn to mechanically perform the skill in silence. 
Parents who feel insecure when their child cries are reassured by the “experts” that “the goal justifies the means”. It doesn't. These methods are nothing but child abuse and they should be banned.

It is often very confusing to the adult world how children respond to traumatic events. It's easy to dismiss the profound impact that a traumatic event has on the child because they do most things pretty well. 
Trauma will sensitize the child's stress regulating system. It will also effect the sense of trust and endanger the secure attachment bond between a parent and its child. 
To grow up healthy and with capability to handle distress your child needs to feel and experience that you are dependable and that it feels safe and secure with you.

Children who don't get soothed becomes less capable in handling distress

A child's cry is their way of communicating a need for help. They are experiencing a situation or strong emotions where they need their caretaker to save them or help them regulate. When an infant or child repeatedly are not soothed by their parents when they are in distress, or if it is the parents who are causing the distress, it impacts the chemical system of the child's brain. To compensate the lack of soothing by the parents the levels of cortisol rise to calm down the system. 
The high levels of cortisol is dangerous to the child's brain tissue. It results in less capability to handle distress in the future. They become more prone to become upset and also to staying upset once they get upset.

Neurologists that study the brain see differences in children's brains (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/children/9637682/Whats-the-difference-between-these-two-brains.html)

A child is never safe around water – it needs you!

Even if your child is confident in and around water your child still needs you to keep him/her safe. If you recognize and are aware of that - your child is much safer. Children live in the moment and when something interesting happens or catches their interest they are off. They have less experience and they have not yet the ability to understand consequences. The part of the brain that will be able to calculate risk and consequences is not fully developed until we are 22-25 years old. Therefor children and young adults need responsible adults to keep them as safe as possible.

Sound precautions

  1. Identifying risks and making sure the area is as safe as possible
  2. Supervise
  3. Make sure your child practices swimming continuously
  4. Educate yourself in CPR and first-aid
  5. Be a good role-model - remember... children do what we do...

For more information on safety around water visit:

USA (http://www.swimforlife.org/)

Australia (http://www.kidsalive.com.au/)

Denmark (http://www.trygfonden.dk/Projekter/TrygFonden-Kystlivredning/Kystlivredning-Pages/De-fem-baderaad)

Sweden (http://svenskalivraddningssallskapet.se/olika-sprak/sweden/bad-batvett)

If there is a link you would like me to add – send me a message.

Look for a quality swim school with a happy caring approach

It is within safe, present and loving relationships that children learn and develop best. Swimming is a skill for life. It takes time to learn and children need safe and caring teachers along with time to practice to develop into confident swimmers. 
Look for a quality program. It should be a happy and caring environment where the teaching is playful and fun for the children. It is through play and practice a child learns best and will become a confident swimmer. 
If it brings a smile to your face and feels good it probably is good.

Today there are many swim schools around the world that's developed into great learning environments for children. If you can enroll your child to one of those quality programs it will be one of your best investments for your child. It will not only give your child a skill for life but also add capital in many other areas.

Which swim schools would you recommend and why?

There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children. Nelson Mandela

I am worried that we are not doing something about the cause of why many suffer mentally today and rather just trying to fix the symptoms. 
Children need dependable, consistent and loving relationship to grow up into strong and resilient adults. Since the seventies more and more children spend a great deal of their day and are raised outside their home with few adults and with very little consistency. That causes stress within a child wich effects their brain and can make them more sensitized for life.

Back in 1996, I chose to change our swim school from how swim schools were operating traditionally and let our parents be able to stay in the water with their children or on-deck close by. 
I myself as a mother felt that every activity my child could attend to after the age of two was without me. And you might question why? Because it is for sure not the child's wish. (Eventually they will choose activities without their parents but not as two-year-olds...) 
My intuition told me that it was good and important to keep parents and children together. I also felt that it was of extra importance as they today already spend enough time apart during a day.

In 2007, I read in the BO's* report that 40-50% of Swedish children grow up with an insecure attachment**. And that it is applicable throughout the entire western world! 
Why? Mainly because we have moved towards a society that is not as child and parental friendly as it could be. Children need dependable, consistent and loving relationship to grow up into strong ad more resilient adults. Today many children spend a great deal of their day and are raised outside their home with too few adults and with very little consistency. This means that they will not be able to develop the important close relationships they need. They adapt but the cost can be unnessary high.

Today researchers know so much more about our early childhood and how our early life relationship experiences will effect how we view ourselves, others and the world and also how happy and resilient we will grow up being. But there is a huge gap between what researchers now know to what is practiced in homes, institutions, schools and among adults in general in their contact with children.

Children are very vulnerable; especially when they are small. They don't tell us what to do, they react and adapt. They need dependable, thoughtful and responsible adults and not only their parents but decision makers and teachers too. When they grow up with that kind of people around they will grow up to become strong and healthy individuals with the ability to love one self and others.

Today we are experiencing more "burnt out" adults and an alarming increasing amount of teenagers and young adults who suffer mental illness. We need to understand the important needs we have as small children and take care of those to stop the trend.

Our swim school is a very small world but together with the 3400 people that weekly swim with us we see and feel the effects. Here we have made it possible for parents and children to be able to share, enjoy, learn and develop together. Just as it was meant to be. 
Children learn best when there is dependable adults to teach and guide them. Through love, respect and consistency in a relationship we learn to know one another. Adults who know the child is more able to give the child the opportunity to explore the world and give them the “just the right challenge” at the right time. By that they are providing the opportunity for children to grow up into into strong, healthy adults.

I know it's important also as business owner, employer, manager and as one of those children who grew up in the seventies a little too insecure. I know in my heart, just as many other parents do too, that our small children wants to be and thrive around us parents and with the other important adults who are interested and willing to be part of their world.

This is what we, me and my staff together with the thousands of families experience every day and it feels good. There is no doubt that children learn and develop best in close and loving relationships. I would love to see more action in making our society a little more parent and child friendly. We just need to see and make it possible.

If we want to take care of our world, take care of our children. Then children grow up confident in that people are nice and responsible and that the world is a great place to be. By that they will grow up to be nice and responsible adults and also take care of our world.

Loads of love and awe to all the lovely people who devote their time to make a difference in the lives of children and their parents.

*BO is The Ombudsman for Children in Sweden, a government agency tasked with representing children regarding their rights and interests on the basis of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

**A safe attachment between child and caregiver is today known as critical to a childs wellbeing now and also in the future. Research has shown that children who have a safe attachment gains a lot, they: have greater empathy 
grow better self esteem 
have better relationship with parents and piers, 
start school ready to learn, 
has better ability to control their emotions

When they grow older they have better conditions for a good mental health now and in the future. 
The attachment theory was developed by John Bowlby

We work on the core of our business focusing on staff, our product and economy. We have a quality concept and staff is key in our business – it's the Swimmix people who makes it all happen. Therefor we are heavy on staff both economically and resource wise. The toughest and most resource demanding on not just the business but on everybody is to much absence, training new and loosing old staff. Good values and clear goals doesn't keep it from happening but makes a significant difference for all of us.

The Swimmix swim program is developing into something more than just learning how to swim. It's also about human growth and development. It's very much about being and growing together. It's important and we need it in our world today and we feel that we in a small way can contribute to that. Thank you to our great team of swim teachers! I see your dedication, your interest and desire to learn more. I also see how you prepare, exchange experiences and care about our swim families and it all makes me feel so fortunate and really, really happy.

Our On-Deck team has become an important channel in how we work and we introduced giving a little 5 minute talk before classes – the new “Swimmix tip”. During 2013 it is new. Developing a new culture finding the form and context demands for a belief in and will to do it. Despite some challenges we got interesting experience and knowledge that meant that we together managed to find a form that now is developing into what we aimed for. Thank you for your dedication – that made all the difference!

Five years ago we extended the 10 level Swimmix program with Team Swimmix. That gives our young Swimmers an opportunity to continue swimming even after they've learnt to swim the four strokes. They are often too young and are too well skilled to fit into the program's most swimming clubs provide. That meaning they stop swimming which we think is a pity when they enjoyed it at first. The “Team Swimmix” team of coaches has taken a big leap in development and has worked on refining and developing the program. We also took the decision to invest in a team leader for this team. The joint results have lead to a higher outcome and satisfaction for our young swimmers and with a clear goal of joy and fun in the sport. Thank you to this team of coaches, past and present, for making swimming important, fun and enjoyable for our youngsters – you do an awesome job!

During spring 2013 we took pictures for my upcoming and new book on baby swimming. Thank you Tuala for your amazing abilities behind the camera! You captured so many great moments and the book will be easy on the eyes because of your pictures. Thank you to all the families attending the photo session and for being a wonderful contribution to the new book. Without the love and wonders you radiate the book would not be half of what it will be. 
I've been writing and rewriting and now I am finally almost finished with the book. I am actually happy I didn't finish it last year as planned. I am much more pleased with how it developed after the last rewriting and I am looking forward to do the final touches. Then it's time for editing and translations into English and Swedish.

From October 2013 I had to give in and take a time-out from work. I had to recover from the many surgeries I had gone through. My body and mind was stressed and I needed to calm the system down. Rest, walks, therapy and training in mindfulness was the medicine. But most importantly a drive within myself that I wanted to be strong again. 
Thank you to my team and Johan who made it possible. Thank you to the angels that walk this earth and I am lucky to have around me thank you for your energy and good thoughts, talks and scientific inputs. In January 2014 I was back at work again.

This ends my 20 years in 20 days... 
A big warm thank you for reading, commenting, messages, e-mails, flowers and all the many, many kind words. It means more than I actually have words to express. 
Thank you to my wonderful team in Farum – who you are and what you do and what we do together means the world to me. 
Thank you to my lovely family and wonderful friends I couldn't live without you, I know I am not easy at all times but know that you are as important to me as the air I breathe.

In the beginning I quoted Aristotle who said ”Learning is not child's play; we cannot learn without pain.” I have felt pain, one do when you put your heart in what you do. I have also learned a lot but maybe most importantly that I, my self-criticism actually gives me the hardest blows. 
Viewing forward I see many good opportunities.

Because of where we are right now and the people we have around us in Swimmix I am now again daring to dream about writing, lecturing, presenting and consulting in the areas I have experience and feel passionate about - creating environments for human growth within families and sports. 
My upcoming book and my new blog being two important steps towards that dream. 
It feels exciting but I also feel insecure – but it is OK! Bring on the next 20 years!