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MikeAqua

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#154635 3-Nov-2014 11:44
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I had an interesting experience at the weekend.  Was watching my son (10) swim (competitively).  He missed his target time by a few seconds over an approximately two minute event.  I should point out that these are his goals, as he wants to compete in a SI event.  I really just wanted him to learn to swim but somehow he is now competitive swimmer.  He is naturally competitive.

I was talking to him afterward.  He was a bit down so I told him his stroke was fine, it was only his turns that cost him and after he has those sorted he will hit his time no problem.

Some time later his coach asks to speak with me and reminds me that "We only give positive feedback, we don't mention any negatives".

She is a hardworking, generous club volunteer so I just nodded, smiled and kept my mouth shut.

Actually though I completely disagree with her.  To me all feedback that is constructive is positive.  By pointing out an area that can be improved I provide him a means of achieving his goals. 

Also I'm his Dad.  I'll be providing him feedback and guidance (hopefully) for another 40 years.

Am I out of line?







Mike


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ckc

ckc
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  #1167523 3-Nov-2014 12:15
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No, you're not out of line. I think the coach is both right and wrong.

There's a tendency to treat kids with the attitude that failure is a bad thing, and my colleagues who both educate and coach would agree with you that positive criticism is a good thing. The attitude she displays, that criticism is negative, is in line with a general trend also exemplified with NCEA and its "not yet achieved" status for subjects. Kids aren't taught to fail or that they can do badly at some things, so when they get to the job market or tertiary education, they're unprepared for it. So you're right to teach him the positives of not achieving something - there is always room for improvement.

As long as the criticism is positive, and not just "you suck" or "you'll never get better", there's nothing wrong with it. It sounds like your coach is failing to properly stream the people she's teaching. Everyone is good at something, and those people who are bad at swimming might benefit from no criticism. But those who want to improve, and who are as strong as their competitors, they need educating in form. Form might mean a 1% difference. But 1% over two minutes is over a second. So it's not negative to teach someone they can improve in form.

Some people are built for some sports (or subjects), other people aren't. Those who aren't might not benefit from any criticism. Me, I was neither built for football - I get terrible hayfever - nor any good at it. But I was built for and good at swimming, biking, running and netball (even if netball isn't a "man's" sport), so that's what I did. I was encouraged to play other sports and find other hobbies more suited to me. No amount of positive reinforcement was going to make football more enjoyable for me or make me less of a liability on the pitch.

People can excel at some things, but no one can excel at everything. So she's right to encourage participation in swimming by not criticising everyone and comparing them to the best. But she's also wrong to not recognise the individual requirements of the members of the team, and wrong to treat them all the same. Some people, it's just good to be in the pool and they want it to be fun. Others need that constructive criticism to do what they want to do, and compete. That's streaming your athletes.

I think you're doing right. But then again, I'm out of the mode of thinking of a lot of mainstream education at the moment. So I'm either a radical revolutionary who's trailblazing new methods of education, or I'm wrong and destroying the lives and confidence of our youth. :)

Handsomedan
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  #1167527 3-Nov-2014 12:21
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Football has gone a bit that way...apparently, until you're a teenager there are no winners and losers...just players.

Life can be unfair, but it's life.

I like to encourage my kids and I believe (as you clearly do) that to point out areas that they can improve (rather than digging them about mistakes) is a good, healthy objective way of helping them to improve.
I think that if they are not assisted with the areas that they are not as good at, they'll never learn. The world is a tad too PC for my liking.

By the same token I do not agree with belittling or berating a child when they are trying hard...it's not cool and it's not good for their confidence.

Just keep at it.





Handsome Dan Has Spoken.
Handsome Dan is also still somewhat perplexed...


 
 
 
 


jonb
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  #1167549 3-Nov-2014 12:31
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I think you were alright in that example, using a positive to frame a constructive criticism.  You will also know your kid's attitude and responses. Unfortunately there are many parents who just rant at their kids for being rubbish.

There is definitely an argument for just giving positive feedback just after am event when they didn't do as well as hoped.  They will already be a bit down, and just observing what they did well won't get them more down.  He will be working on his turns more during training anyway.

I have a 13yr old who swims, and what goal times you meet at age ten is not important, as long as they are happy and so more likely to continue with the sport after junior level when many people drop out.  The coaches, especially at that age, want to have training goals which aren't tied to times but to technique.  The coaches give much more specific stroke and race critiques as they get older, and with much more criticism of what could do better.

freitasm
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  #1167603 3-Nov-2014 13:34
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I think you are right. You need to give feedback in aconstructive way, even if it means pointing out the bad - and good. 

And life is full of failure. You have to prepare to fail and learn from that. Or you will be raising a snowflake, which the world is already full of.





 

 

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networkn
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  #1167604 3-Nov-2014 13:38
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I agree with the other sentiment. I think it's reasonable to point out where improvement can be made in a supportive way. 

I think it's great your son is competitive and even more awesome you are there to support him as well, win or lose. 



MikeAqua

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  #1167665 3-Nov-2014 14:23
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Thanks folks, useful calibration.  I think my sons coach does have him in the 'just have fun' category.  This is a bit strange as he is knocking on the door of qualifying for South Island champs for two events (has qualified for two already) and he would love to compete in all four.  I sometimes think he might be too competitive, but I can hardly criticise on that count.




Mike


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  #1167800 3-Nov-2014 17:06
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MikeAqua: I had an interesting experience at the weekend.  Was watching my son (10) swim (competitively).  He missed his target time by a few seconds over an approximately two minute event.  I should point out that these are his goals, as he wants to compete in a SI event.  I really just wanted him to learn to swim but somehow he is now competitive swimmer.  He is naturally competitive.

I was talking to him afterward.  He was a bit down so I told him his stroke was fine, it was only his turns that cost him and after he has those sorted he will hit his time no problem.

Some time later his coach asks to speak with me and reminds me that "We only give positive feedback, we don't mention any negatives".

She is a hardworking, generous club volunteer so I just nodded, smiled and kept my mouth shut.

Actually though I completely disagree with her.  To me all feedback that is constructive is positive.  By pointing out an area that can be improved I provide him a means of achieving his goals. 

Also I'm his Dad.  I'll be providing him feedback and guidance (hopefully) for another 40 years.

Am I out of line?





Reminds me of some friends whose children received certificates for turning up at school..!





 
 
 
 


Cbfd
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  #1167909 3-Nov-2014 18:58
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I was a top swimmer with medals in div2 div1 and open nationals as well as some records that still stand but tbh i wouldnt have got there if i wasnt for my coach who was pretty harsh tbh (always told was winning was everything and punished if medals werent won in my events) but i made me swim harder and worker harder to get to my goals , but everythng is so different these days with the whole lot ;(

Batman
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  #1167944 3-Nov-2014 19:25
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i remember in high school - everyone bragged about the Bs and the Cs that they had!

i just kept really quiet.

must be a result of modern coaching.

good for society as a whole. but if you want to achieve more be prepared to be a tall poppy.




Involuntary autocorrect in operation on mobile device. Apologies in advance.


networkn
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  #1168445 4-Nov-2014 13:34
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Cbfd: I was a top swimmer with medals in div2 div1 and open nationals as well as some records that still stand but tbh i wouldnt have got there if i wasnt for my coach who was pretty harsh tbh (always told was winning was everything and punished if medals werent won in my events) but i made me swim harder and worker harder to get to my goals , but everythng is so different these days with the whole lot ;(


Punished how exactly?


BTR

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  #1168463 4-Nov-2014 13:50
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I don't agree with the coach one bit, theres a difference between constructive and negative feedback. Constructive feedback is more likely to help him shave off those 2 seconds rather than positive feedback saying you will do better next time son.

BTR

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  #1168465 4-Nov-2014 13:52
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It also seems awfully PC like participation ribbons or certificates. Sometimes we win and some times we lose. Telling kids we are all winners sets them up for failing in life. 

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