The Law of Kid Inertia
November 12, 2018
The Law of Kid Inertia by Ryan Woodruff
About 45 minutes after my kids get off the school bus on most weekdays, it is my honor to announce "Alright kids, time to go to swim practice!"
If you know my three kids, you might think that this statement brings joy and excitement to my household. You would be wrong. 100% wrong.
All three swim on our team, and all three are proficient swimmers who genuinely love the sport and love being around their teammates and coaches. But my practice time announcement is inevitably met with groans and moans of "uuuuughhh" and "do we haaaaaave toooooo?" We then round up their mesh bags, beg them to change into their suits, and eventually get out the door.
The above is an example what I call the Law of Kid Inertia.
The Law of Kid Inertia states that:
A kid doing something of his own choosing will want to continue doing that something and nothing else unless acted upon by an external force.
If the external force yields, Kid Inertia strengthens for next time.
When the applied external force consists solely of a parent's begging/pleading/demanding, a delay in action of at least 10 minutes is mandated.
Upon the conclusion of the 10-minute delay, complaining and moaning is not guaranteed to end.
Kid Inertia can only be fully overcome IF AND ONLY IF the kid arrives at the new activity and remembers that it is fun, thereby fully replenishing the supply of Kid Inertia.
The big question of course is "How do I know if this a simple case of the Law of Kid Inertia or if my kid really doesn't like swimming?" The answer is to examine what your kid says AFTER practice. Is he happy he went to practice? If the answer is YES, then it is definitely a case of Kid Inertia. If the answer to that question is a definite NO on a consistent basis over a matter of weeks, then you have a different situation on your hands.
If you do have a case of Kid Inertia, how to overcome it?
Step 1: Ignore that voice in your head that says - "if they don't really want to go, we probably shouldn't go, and you know... I do have a lot of things to do around the house."
Step 2: Take them to practice.
This is not as easy as I make it sound -- I know at the end of the day, parents are tired too (at all parts of the day, for that matter) and it can be easy to yield to Kid Inertia. But if you like watching your kids succeed, then encourage them to keep their commitment to swimming. This is not to say that every swimmer needs to be at practice 100% of the time. For 12 & under swimmers, we actually recommend participating in other activities and suggest that swimmers not plan to be at practice 100% of the time. My own kids (ages 9, 8, and 6) currently swim 3x per week max. The point is, whatever level of commitment your family has made, encourage your kid to stick to it. Having a regular habit and sticking to it will weaken the Kid Inertia in your household and make for a happier, more successful swimmer.
Sorry, but I haven't yet found the solution to that 10-minute mandated break. : - )