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At what age do children generally learn to propel themselves in a swing? Is this something that they generally figure out on their own, or do parents/older siblings teach the skill? How do you teach it without personally demonstrating? (Swinging makes me dizzy, anymore.)

I can't remember how or when I learned. I do remember that I still much preferred the "baby" swing in preschool, but I don't know if I still needed to be pushed or not.

(My daughter is nearly 33 months old, and loves to be pushed in the swing. Incessantly. She's physically precocious and fearless, but doesn't generally follow instructions. I keep hoping anyway.)

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My son is 5 and STILL hasn't figured it out. I'm not sure if it's because he just prefers to be pushed or simply lacks the know-how. I am fairly certain I had mastered it by the time I was his age, though. – Meg Coates Apr 11 '13 at 1:09
My son learned when he was 4 because he wanted to impress his Aunty Jules. Otherwise, I think he'd still want us to push him. – Kit Z. Fox Apr 12 '13 at 13:03
I just taught my six year old nephew how to do this earlier this week. – Kalamane Jul 27 '13 at 11:10
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I used to work in a preschool, and kids learn to swing at different ages, though most typically at 4-5 years. You can demonstrate the two positions of their feet while stationary (since it makes you dizzy): "kick" means to kick both your feet forward and "back" means to kick both your feet back underneath you. As you push them in the swing, you tell them "kick" and "back" at the appropriate times. It will take them awhile to get the rhythm right, and longer for it to actually propel them (they may not kick with enough force initially).

Another way to teach it is to play a game where you stand in front of them. You have to get them swinging, then you hold your two hands out in front and tell them to "kick" your hands. When they do, you push their feet back, saying "back". Your pushing will be giving them the momentum to keep swinging, while they get the rhythm of "kick" and "back."

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I've been applying versions of these ideas for a few years now, and it finally "clicked" for her at preschool recently (age 5 years and 2 months, pretty much to the day). I wasn't there when it happened, only for the proud demonstration afterwards, but it definitely seems like a switch flipped in her brain and now she can do it. – JPmiaou Oct 14 '15 at 4:30

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