There is no doubt that the formation of a child’s character is a complex and multilevel process. There is a great variety of factors that play a crucial role. Such factors are the inherited genes, the environment and the financial and social conditions of the family. What is however certain in most cases, is that practising a child on a sports activity from a young age can be highly beneficial for its character’s development. When the question comes to what is the optimal activity for that sensitive age, swimming could be the best option. There are many reasons for that.
How children form their characters
First of all, we shall examine the process of the formation of children's characters. The scientific community agrees that personality traits begin to emerge at the age of 3. (1)
It is most likely that these traits are going to determine the future development of the child through his adulthood and beyond. This does not mean that children who develop behaviour problems (e.g. irritability, aggression etc) at that age, will continue having those problems for the rest of their lives. With the right guidance and provision of care, such disorders can be cured.
When children reach the age of 5 they start to realise the meanings of gender identity and attitudes as well as self-esteem. (2)
Later on, the interaction of their personality and temperament traits with the environment is of great significance for the final formation of their character. The better the interaction, the more chances that they will develop a healthy character and prosper.
How children develop their characters
Of course, when speaking about the development of the children's character we have to take many factors under consideration. The teaching of core values during this sensitive age can produce very positive results. As the ancient Romans used to say humans are born as “tabula rasa”, meaning that they don't acquire innate knowledge but rather they develop it via perception and experience that come from their interaction with the world around them. Considering this, we can argue that there are certain areas that parents can concentrate on, for helping their children develop their characters in a positive way. Such areas are:
- Work ethic
- Social skills
The progressive development of the above traits can make a huge difference to the future development of children. The early practise and realisation of their value can prepare the children for a happy adult life.
Swimming builds the character of children
The above facts can help us to understand better the highly positive impact that swimming can have on the formation of children's character. Swimming is a totally different activity in comparison to other athletic activities. The element of water and the full workout of the body, cover their essential physical development. Nonetheless, swimming has a lot more to offer to the development of children:
- Learning new skills
- Dealing with possible failure
- Working hard to achieve new goals
- Being a team member
- Developing emotional intelligence
The above attributes are now essential for adults to survive in a more and more complex world, where most certainties are vanishing. A person who has developed them from a young age stands high more chances to become successful in all aspects of his life.
Swimming makes kids smarter
Another significant element that is correlated to the building of children's characters, is that swimming makes kids smarter. This is articulately documented by the Griffith Institute for Educational Research (3) which found out that children who learn how to swim at a young age develop their brains earlier and better than the norm.
According to lead researcher Professor Robyn Jorgensen the study, which was conducted in Australia, New Zealand and the US for a period of three years, young children who take part in the early years of swimming achieve a wide range of skills earlier than the normal population. The research is considered to be the most comprehensive study on the subject, as it surveyed parents of 7000 under-fives as well as a further 180 children aged 3, 4 and 5 years.
The research also showed that children who start swimming at a young age develop their visual-motor skills and mathematical skills better, their oral expression is also better and they perform well in the general areas of literacy and numeracy. Such early development of skills is a great boost for acquiring self-confidence and building strong character.
Swimming develops children's social skills
The building of a strong character is more meaningful and effective when combined with the formation of social skills. Swimming can play a great role in this matter, too. First of all, the interaction with the swimming instructor and the absorbing of new information is the basis upon which the swimming culture develops into something deeper. Then the interaction with other children and the finding of effective ways of cooperating makes an excellent lesson for developing social skills. Additionally, the healthy competition that can emerge among children in the swimming pool can originate their feelings of self-esteem as well as their respect for the person next to them. Especially, when children start swimming lessons from a very young age, the persons they meet on training are the first they develop bonds apart from their parents and relatives. The effects on the positive development of their character can indeed be huge.
The Science Behind Swimming and a Child’s Character
When we look at the many ways in which emotional skills and social skills develop, we can see that plenty of things can influence their development. This is especially true with swimming, where children are placed into an environment where they learn how to follow instructions, achieve new goals and interact with their peers in the water safely.
There are multiple ways in which swimming can help to build a child’s character.
Swimming Builds Courage
Swapping seamlessly between strokes, learning how to float effortlessly atop the water and practising breathing techniques that improve your performance. These are just some of the things that you have to learn how to do when you first start to swim as a child.
Naturally, learning how to swim for the first time can be quite a daunting task. In order to swim, children have to develop skills that they might otherwise not have had, and learning how to do that takes courage. As children achieve more and more of their goals, their self-confidence begins to increase.
This is rather wonderful because it instils a sense of accomplishment in young children. It teaches them that if they stick to something, they can do it. As children achieve their goals and create new goals that reach further than before, they will grow the courage that they need to push themselves to their limits.
Children Who Swim Are Disciplined
Learning how to swim properly takes a great amount of practice, with many children attending weekly lessons. Keeping up with these lessons requires discipline.
Children learn how to be disciplined when it comes to swimming because of the rewards that they receive when they are disciplined. To learn essential swimming skills, you need to maintain a positive attitude towards that disciple.
Swimming Lessons Are Uplifting for Children with Disabilities
We must not overlook the fact that swimming lessons can be beneficial for children with disabilities. Swimming lessons are renowned for their inclusivity, where the physical and emotional benefits of swimming can be attained by all. Water resistance, in particular, helps to build muscle tone, and the coordination that is required to swim can really help with the development of motor skills. In the same way, swimming lessons present children with the opportunity to interact with other children from different backgrounds. All of these children will learn how to swim at their own pace. Understanding that everyone is different is a vital skill that will shape the way that your child views the world around them.
It is more difficult to write in words how effective the benefits of swimming are, for the development of strong and healthy characters, rather than presenting them on live time. Both scientific research and empirical evidence suggest that swimming can build the character of children and make them better individuals for both themselves and their social environment. As with most things in life, it is better for parents to explore and find out for themselves how much help they can offer their kids by enrolling them to swimming classes. Because theory and practice have to coexist for positive things to happen.