Recently I was at a hotel pool enjoying sitting in the hot tub while a number of children and parents were splashing around in the nearby pool. I noticed one dad who was encouraging his young daughter, who was probably about 4-years-old, to swim out to him. He stood a few feet from the edge of the pool and she was hanging onto the edge of the pool. Finally he convinced her to swim out to him. When she started swimming towards him he stepped back so she had to swim a bit further to reach him. She panicked and was sobbing by the time she reached him.
Later on he commanded her to swim out to him but naturally she was afraid given the previous incident. He threatened her with having to leave the pool or get a spanking if she didn’t swim out to him. She ended up crying a number of times during this swimming session.
I don’t think this dad meant to be so mean to his daughter but from where I sat it felt like he was bullying her. He didn’t seem to care that she was scared and crying in reaction to what he was doing.
If we want our children to be sensitive to the feelings of others, than we need to be sensitive to their feelings. When our children are crying in response to our actions, it’s time to take a step back and reflect on our own behavior to see if there isn’t a better approach.