This weekend, we took a short vacation to Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor water park in Kansas City, KS. I'm not a huge fan of being in water. I love being on it - boats, jet ski, etc., but I can't swim. So being in it is a little different. Some of you water park aficionados may point out the depth of most water park attractions is about where my knees are, and you'd be correct. Let's not dwell on this part of the story.
I'm also not big on water slides, but being a dad, I took my kids down when my wife (who is a fan) was tied up with the baby. My son and I went down one of the slides and proceed to flip our tube inside a tunnel part of the slide. My son managed to slap himself across the chest, which was fortunately our worst injury. We couldn't get back on the tube, so I pulled him on my lap and pushed the tube down the slide to the end. As we came out, there was an obvious look of curiosity from the life guard, but I just waved and we went on.
After the ride, he vowed not do get back on. I knew he had to, just to build his confidence. We gave him some time, but I kept talking it up to him. When I asked him a couple hours later if he was having fun, he said, "Yes, except for the time I fell off the tube." I said, "But it's made for a great story and then you'll be able to tell everyone you went back down it again." He wasn't totally convinced. My daughter wanted to go down the same slide. When I took her, I figured out the point where we made our mistake. Telling my son this didn't immediately reassure him. Slowly he started to come around. He went down one of the other slides with his mom and sister. Finally, about an hour before we left, we convinced him to go down the infamous slide one more time. I've never been so nervous about not tipping over. My son had overcome fear of something that had happened and I didn't want to ruin it. It was a successful, uneventful run. I praised him multiple times afterwards for overcoming his fear. We need to make sure, as parents, we point out when kids do the right thing, not just when they do the wrong thing. If we only point out the negative, that's what their perception becomes.
Before we left, he even went down the "biggest" slide in the water park, albeit with my wife.