When you talk to your child about starting swim lessons, what is their general reaction? Are they mostly excited and eager, or are they more unsure and scared?
It’s totally normal for new students to get pre-swimming jitters. Sometimes these nerves disappear with the first lesson, and sometimes they take a little longer to wash away. As a parent, you may also mirror your child’s worries. Try practicing these strategies to assuage your fears – both your child’s and your own – as you get into the rhythm of swim lessons.
The newness of swimming can be overwhelming in the beginning. Ease your child into the experience by making it familiar and comfortable before they start lessons. Explore the facilities, meet the instructor and encourage ask questions together. Watch other kids in beginner lessons, and point out what they’re doing – “See, they’re learning how to put their face in the water and do a front float” – and when they seem to be having a good time – “Look at the games they’re playing.” Go to a Family Swim night so you can be in the pool together in a fun and welcoming environment.
Take their fears seriously. Ask what they’re worried about, and give them a chance to express their thoughts openly. Instead of using a blanket reassurance like, “You have nothing to be scared of,” or “You’ll be fine, you’ll see,” try to address their specific concerns. Are they afraid they’ll sink as soon as they get in the pool? Do they hate the sensation of water in their nose or their eyes? Are they anxious about being with kids they don’t know?
Look for concrete steps you can take to make them feel safe (and ease your own apprehensions). Don’t be afraid to reach out to our staff for support. We have years of experience building new swimmers’ comfort and confidence in the water, and we are here to help.
Give Them Tools
Lead by example. Tell them about a time when you were nervous or frightened to do something – whether it was when you were a kid or just the other day. How did you manage to do it anyway? What coping techniques helped you? Talk about being patient, going at your own pace and asking for what you need. Practice simple exercises they can do when they are feeling scared, such as pausing and taking several deep, slow breaths to calm down. Encourage them to keep trying, and praise them for every time they do.
Interested in getting to know Tom Dolan Swim School? Attend our next Family Swim night.