08 July, 2011
When Kids Are Scared of Swim Lessons
Come summertime, millions of kids across America flock to various pools, beaches and lakes to take advantage of the cool water. Ensuring that your child has had proper swimming instruction can help you rest more easily about his skill and safety, but if he's scared of swimming and the water in general, it can be discouraging for both of you. By taking the process slowly and staying positive, you can help your child become more comfortable about swimming lessons for a safer summer.
Choosing a Class
One of the largest factors in your child's comfort during swim lessons will rely on the teacher and the type of class you choose. Selecting a class that is packed with children and offers little individual attention might be fine for experienced swimmers but disadvantageous for children who are nervous around water. Look for smaller classes in which the instructor understands your child's reservations and can take her time during the swim lessons. Also, looking for instructors and classes specifically geared toward new or nervous swimmers can help give your child a better introduction to lessons.
Take the time to talk to your child's swim instructor and ask that he move slowly when teaching swimming. Your child needs to feel comfortable around the water before getting in the water and learning to swim. He might need to move as slowly as first putting his legs in the water for a class or two before getting in the water completely. If your child doesn't want to get into the water, don't force it. He might have had a bad experience with water that makes him nervous, and sudden teaching tactics can compound that experience with more negative feelings toward lessons.
The idea of getting into the water with a strange instructor and new classmates can make your child's fear of the water even worse with social anxiety. By finding a class that allows parental involvement, you can get in the water too. You needn't worry if you're not a strong swimmer or are a poor teacher. You'll likely only get into the water up to your waist. Having you nearby can help reduce your child's fears and make him feel more confident in class.
Berating your child for harboring aquaphobia or being scared of lessons can cause regression in your child. When she understands that you're upset with her abilities, it can lower her self esteem and attach a negative connotation to the experience of swim lessons. Instead, stay upbeat, positive and encouraging, no matter how much your child achieves during class. Congratulate your child on each hurdle she surpasses, whether it's getting in the water, listening to the teacher or letting go of the wall for the first time.
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