Summer is a time for visiting the pool to cool off! Our family loves to go swimming! But, some trips to the pool are more memorable than others.
Recently we had one of those memorable trips to the pool. It was a trip to the pool that my young children will always remember, because they learned some valuable lessons about self-government.
When we got to the pool my two youngest children waited patiently for me to get by the pool with them. While waiting a boy in the pool said, “Just get in.”
My daughter replied with, “We can't yet. The pool rules are that our mom has to be here with us before we can get in. We aren't old enough to get in without her here.”
The boy said, “No she doesn't. No one will know.” He was in the pool without his parents being at the pool.
After we all got into the pool, this same boy and a few of his friends started breaking another rule. They started squirting people in the pool with large squirting toys. The people in the pool started looking annoyed and tried to move away from the squirting. But, the boys who were squirting seemed determined to annoy the other people in the pool, because they didn't stop aiming their water streams in the wrong direction.
At this point, I decided that someone needed to parent these boys. In the old days, adults knew that they had a responsibility to correct and help children no matter whose child it was. Adults needed to watch out for children and keep them from corruption.
Now days most adults are afraid to correct children or say anything to a child that is not their child. Most adults choose to be passive which then allows the children to control the environment. I am not like most adults.
“Excuse me.” I said to the boys. “You are squirting your water guns all over the pool, and some people here don't want to be squirted. You need to squirt your water in that part of the pool, and those of us who don't want to be squirted will swim in this part of the pool. Okay?”
The boys looked at me, and moved away. They stopped squirting the other people in pool; for about one minute.
Within minutes they were purposely trying to squirt at the heads of other children and adults in the part of the pool I told them they couldn't squirt in. They obviously didn't know how to accept a no answer.
I approached them again.
“Excuse me. Just a moment a go I told you that you couldn't squirt water in this part of the pool, but you chose to anyway. You need to keep your squirting game away from other swimmers. It is bothering some people in the pool.” I gently corrected.
The boys looked at me and acted like they were going to change their game.
Again, a few moments later the boys were shooting water at the other swimmers. People started getting out of the pool. Me and my younger children got out of that pool and moved a calmer pool, where we could relax better.
After being in the other pool for about three minutes, the squirting boys came to our pool, but they did not have their squirt guns. They ran up the pool right where me and my small children were swimming and jumped in almost on top of us splashing water all over us and the other swimmers.
Normally, I don't mind splashing in a pool. But, this behavior was defiant. They were trying to power struggle with me because I had given them a no answer. They obviously didn't think that an adult could really do anything to them, and that they had all the power.
All to often I see this kind of mentality. So many children have not been trained to respect adults. Respecting adults is something that adults have to train in the hearts of the children. If the parents don't respect themselves enough to teach their children to respect them, then the children will not be happy because they will never learn respect.
At this point, I corrected the boys again, but the boys didn't stop splashing us and other swimmers who were elderly and wanted some peace.
I knew I needed to correct the boys again, but this time had to be the last time. They needed to see cause and effect and earn a consequence for their actions. If they weren't allowed to accept a consequence they would never choose to respect others and master their delinquent behaviors.
“Excuse me sirs. I have instructed you three times to stop bothering other swimmers in the pool. I have given you the opportunity to keep playing your pool games even though they are against the pool rules so long as you respected other swimmers. But, you have chosen not to accept the boundaries I set up for you. You are obviously not understanding cause and effect.
“I know that you are in this pool without an parent supervision, and that you are breaking a pool rough play rule, so I only need to go to the office right there, and they will make it so that you are not allowed to swim in this swimming pool any more.”
The faces of the boys went white.
“You need to get out of the pool now. Okay?”
Still they didn't say “okay.” The boys grabbed their belongings and left the pool.
On their way into the locker room they hollered at me over their shoulders, trying to get a last power struggle word in.
As soon as they were gone, adults started clapping. Some of them said. “How did you do that? How did you explain things to them like that. I have never seen someone know what to say like that, or be so calm.”
The adults in the pool were amazed by assertiveness and self-government. They saw me trust in principles and in my role as an adult. They also saw me not become emotional, but teach the children with principles.
The boys in this story always looked at me, but never said “okay.” They had not learned that skill yet. And, they couldn't say “okay” if they weren't ready to be okay and follow the instruction. Even dishonest people have a hard time saying “okay” if they aren't okay.
Okay is like a commitment. Acknowledging someone in that way unifies you with them, and gives you opportunity to follow the instruction.
If the boys would have learned to calmly say “okay” the pool situation could have been totally different.
Teach your babies to say “okay.” It's a great first word.
Teach your children to say “okay.” Require it as part of following an instruction.
This consistent teaching will help your children be okay with you giving them instructions and with their role as a child.
Help Nicholeen teach families all over the world about self-government principles and good communication. It is time for a cultural parenting revolution. Donate here.