My child HATED swimming lessons. To the point where about 7 weeks into our new lessons (we stopped between 18 months and 3 due to ear infections) he had a forty minute tantrum including hilarious chase scenes in front of the pool viewing window and his lesson only goes for twenty minutes. He didn't get into the pool that day. I was wiped out and quite frankly so was he. Swimming is kind of a safety thing so like it or not I was taking him back. We showed up the next week and he got in the pool but he wasn't thrilled about it.
A few weeks later he basically pushed me away from him so he could get into the pool like a 'Big Boy'. Oh and also he was swimming like a fish that day to and every lesson since.
I was asked by one of the other Mama's what I did. And I replied 'Oh nothing. He just woke up and said he was a Big Boy and he wanted to go to swimming'. And then I got to thinking.... Nothing. I did - nothing.
Is it really possible that I was dealing with a behavioral problem in my three year and I did nothing then the undesirable behavior turned itself around with no intervention at all? Is that possible? No.
I actually did a shit tonne of work to get that child to a point where he said 'I'm a Big Boy and I go to swimming'. It came out of nowhere when it did come but it came from stellar, natural amazing and kind of boring parenting from me (sorry husband you aren't included as this is a solo parenting activity).
The thing I did was show up, again and again and again. I was consistent. If I have said ' We go to swimming for our safety once I have said it a hundred times. I set up swimming expectations, I was organised and no matter what we walked into swimming lessons once a week. And one day my 'Big Boy' realised that his current attitude was getting him nowhere and he may as well swim (because he secretly loves it).
That's not the answer we give when asked though. It's not the pat on the back we deserve. We just say 'nothing' because that day to day parenting is 'nothing'. It is what I do now as weaved into my personality as feeling naked without toenail polish or being too loud in social situations. It is what we do, Mama's, and it is hard work. Like ridiculously firetrucking HARD and we do it so naturally that we don't even notice anymore. No wonder parents are tired.
As I go through a very difficult period with my newly acquired 'threenager' I am going to keep doing 'nothing' and hopefully one day soon we will come out the other side of it with a child who realises he is about 40 years away from getting one over me.