“Children aren’t coloring books. You don’t get to fill them with your favorite colors.”
~Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner, Chapter 3
I like looking at friends’ social media posts and seeing how different we all raise our kids. My favorite is reading a debate between Sears Family Bed-ists and Cry-it-outers; the child development trolls love to come out for that one. “Child Development” of course is a brand new study in relation to the course of humanity. There may be a few things you should definitely avoid as a parent and also some common “best practices,” but really everything in between is up for trial and error, your own philosophy, and of course flair.
My own philosophy is to start ‘em young. Expose your kids to everything you can, the widest variety possible, include some risks, and specialize in nothing well into adolescence. Of course having a philosophy and a partner in life sometimes contradict each other (especially when I mention risk), and with a partner with post-graduate schooling in child education I have to bring my A-game to support my philosophy.
We started potty training Stuart at 18 months, keeping a very open mind, knowing each child needs to go at his or her own pace. We started using babysitters just after birth, sleep trained him at 3 months, backpacked with him at 5 months, and took him for a haircut at 12 months. But that’s us. Some of our friends were more relaxed on those milestones but have kids who can read, are bilingual, and have traveled internationally, which is awesome. Different parents, different kids, different philosophies—it’s all good.
Here’s what’s not all good: letting years go by before you introduce swim lessons.
Swim ‘Em Young Because…
- Drownings are the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4, and three children die every day as a result of drowning. (Center for Disease Control)
- Children who learn how to swim at a young age are reaching many developmental milestones earlier than the norm according to research published recently (World Aquatic Baby Council)
- Swimming is fun and a healthy activity, especially if you live in California. (No citation needed)
- Your kids are going to be invited to pool parties
- If you’re reading this, you know me, you know where I work, and I probably know where you live
Here’s the first milestone to shoot for, check out this video of Stuart at 24 months performing an independent circle swim, arguably the most important safety skill for a child around water.
Want your child to swim like that as a toddler? Start them when they look like Wyatt in the picture above.