Some new swimmers take to the water immediately, feeling at ease in lessons without much prompting. Other children are fearful or nervous and need more time and support before they become comfortable.
If your child falls into the latter category, swim lessons can unfortunately become a battleground. You know that swimming is an important life skill that they need to learn. You want them to enjoy – and be safe during – summer days at the pool and trips to the beach. But it sure is hard to deal with tears and tantrums from a reluctant swimmer.
We have helped many children and parents through this difficult phase, so take comfort in the fact that it does get better. Some of our most enthusiastic swimmers started out in this very same place. Follow these steps to encourage your child to stick with swim lessons – even if it’s tough right now.
- Talk About It
Learning to swim is a new experience, and unfamiliarity is daunting for little ones. Ask your child how swim lessons are going. What do they like so far? What makes them uncomfortable or scared? What could help? Brainstorm ideas together. Share your own experiences with overcoming a fear or learning a new skill.
- Be Positive
Focus on everything positive you can think of related to swimming. What is potentially fun about going to lessons right now? Seeing nice teachers and friends, playing games, wearing a favorite swimsuit? What fun things will swim lessons lead to in the future? Snorkeling on vacation, learning how to kayak, going to a friend’s pool party?
- Celebrate Milestones
Applaud each little bit of progress. Did they get in the pool without a fuss? Celebrate! Did they put their face in the water for the first time? Celebrate! Did they do every drill in class? Celebrate! Every milestone is important.
- Practice and Play
Find opportunities to practice swimming skills in a relaxed environment. Splash around in the community pool, or attend a Family Swim night at TDSS. Showing your child that you enjoy swimming together sets a great example and encourages them to practice.
- Keep Going
Accept that becoming a confident swimmer won’t happen overnight, but sticking to lessons will be well worth it long term. Be patient and but firm when your child resists lessons. Take it one lesson at a time, cheering them on with short-term goals: “You can do it! It’s just 30 minutes, and you’ll feel so proud when you kick all the way to the edge of the pool.” And remember that our teachers and staff are always available if you need extra advice or support.
Check the calendar for Family Swim nights and other upcoming events at TDSS.