How to handle a melt down at a swim meet

While it is still on my mind… Yesterday, Anastasia (my oldest daughter, age 4.5) had her swim meet. It was her fourth or fifth one, so by now, I was thinking we are used to it, we are over the exiety, the scare, we know what to expect. Oh my, I was wrong, very wrong…

Most swimmers know that you have to do a warm up before the meet, so did my daughter. We ( me, Anastasia and her 3 year old sister Tatiana) showed up early, just so Anastasia can take her time to get used to the place, do her warm ups and get comfortable. I got her into the suit, cap, and google we got to her lane, and all of the sudden she refuses to get into the pool.
My first tactic was to encourage her; “Go in it will be so much fun, you need to warm up your body, so you can swim very fast during the meet!” This lasted for about 5 minutes, then I thought maybe I should leave and have her coach deal with it. So I took me 3 year old and went the bench. i don’t know what the coach was telling her, but 5 minutes in, Anastasia was still on the deck clinging to her coach. I felt bad for the lady, she had a lot going on with all other swimmers, so I came to take over Anastasia. At that time, she started crying and screaming that she doesn’t want to do warm ups, she just wanted to do the meet.
Ok, some of you might says, just let her be and let her do just the events that she is interested. But we are already 15 minutes in it, at this point, I just want her to get in the water just to teach her that you don’t get what you want just by screaming and crying. So, I go to my next tactic, Bribing. If you get in the water, I will buy you ice-cream, etc. This lasted another 10 minutes. Don’t forget, this is all happening in front of the pool where hundreds of people are watching me and probably think “Thank God this is not me”. Another 10 minutes in I realize that 10 more minutes and they will close the pool and I will loose that battle, so I go on to my last reserve: “It is your choice, if you don’t want to get in the pool you don’t have to, but then I will make my choice and not let you go to the birthday party tomorrow.” I know it was so low, but I was running out of ideas, and 40 minute of crying and creaming was getting the best of me. When they announce that the pool is closing she agreed to get in the water but not to swim.

Ok, I take it, it was not a win, but she had to over come her melt down and did what needed to be done. Once she got into the pool coaches let us go to the small pool where she agreed to do couple of laps of freestyle. She refused to do anything else, and I left her have that battle. “Good job, Anastasia, you did it, I am so proud you”- I said. “Good job, Dina, I am so proud of you, you didn’t kill your child in front of a 100 people and stayed COOL.”

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