When Your Child Resists Swim Lessons

Not every child is enthusiastic about swimming right away. For some children, the uncertainty melts away naturally after the first few lessons. For others, the opposition to swimming persists much longer.

As a parent, the latter situation puts you in a tricky position. Swim lessons teach life-saving skills – but it’s tough to fight about them week after week. Do you drop the idea for now and vow to try again later? Or do you make them stick with the lessons, despite their resistance? In general, we do think it’s worth it to persevere and keep going to lessons. We’ve seen many an unenthusiastic student transform into a passionate swimmer over time.

But what do you do in the meantime? Here are a few tried and true strategies to help your child through this phase.

Get mentally prepared.

Unfamiliar experiences can be intimidating, so try to clear up any doubts or misconceptions. Visit the school, and walk through exactly what will happen each week at swim lessons. Point out where you’ll sign in at the front desk, where you’ll change into your swimsuit and where you’ll meet your teacher and class in the pool. Remind them that it’s only 30 minutes a week – and that they’ll be surrounded by fun, supportive people the whole time.

Meet the team.

The teachers and other staff at Tom Dolan Swim School are here to help. We’ve guided new swimmers through nerves and tears for many years, and we’re happy to answer questions and ease worries. If you want to get to know the school and our team better, attend one of our Family Swim nights held several times a month. Your child will be able to play games and participate in activities in a relaxed setting with lots of friendly faces.

Acknowledge their feelings.

Let your child know that you understand that they’re feeling unsure or afraid, but that there’s nothing to be worried about. Ask them if they know why they are resistant to swimming. Is it a general apprehensiveness? Or is there a particular reason – for example, they don’t want to put their face in the water, or they get overwhelmed by all the noise and activity? Offer reassurance, and look for solutions to any specific problems.

Be there, but give them room.

At the start of the lesson, walk your child over to the instructor and point out where you’ll be watching from. Give them an encouraging hug or thumbs-up, and let the teacher take it from there. Your child will pick up on your confident, relaxed attitude – and may start to adopt it given a little more time.


Check the calendar for Family Swim nights and other upcoming events.