How do you help your child who is crying his or her way through swim class?
Our swim instructors are trained in methods that help your child through crying during swim class, however, there are ways that you can help them too.
It is a fact that children are often fussy or resistant when they begin swim classes. Think back to your childhood. What happened when you found yourself in a completely new sensory experience? There could even be some separation anxiety when leaving their parent’s side. Water can sometimes be an overwhelming and foreign world to them and instructors and parents must help them work through it.
Each child is different and may not react to the water as all of his or her classmates do. Support them in their development so that they are confident and comfortable in the water. Well-trained and experienced instructors understand this and work through tears so that you see your child’s progress as the classes progress. Usually, children reach a comfort level with the water, the instructor and the new activities as time goes on.
Many Swim Schools – especially Easy2Swim – are founded on a mission to help your child have a fun and healthy appreciation for the water.
How do we help your child through the tears?
- Distraction (through singing songs)
To help them in overcoming their tears, consider these four factors:
The Mom or Dad Factor. Parents have more influence on their child during the lesson than they realize. Children often look over at the parent before any response. Fearful or worried body language from a parent can also influence the child’s responses.
Sometimes children are more focused on lesson activities if parents are not visible. If we think this is the case, we will ask parents to move into the viewing area so we can get their child engaged instead of distracted. If your crying child continually looks to you and calls to you in the viewing room, break eye contact. This can be easily accomplished by looking at a magazine or book every time your child tries to make eye contact.
If you bring your child into the pool area to class, it is best if you hand them over to the teacher quickly. Lingering on the deck just prolongs your child’s unhappiness.
The Comfort Factor. Sometimes children need to know that their parent is comfortable with what they are doing. We encourage positive support through thumbs ups, big smiles and cheering so the child sees that their parent isn’t apprehensive or worried about them. Talking about how fun lessons are on the ride over is a big help, too.
The Calm Factor. Basically, if you are, they are – calm, that is. You can help your crying child by having patience. Don’t let their crying upset you. Don’t get rushed. Arrive with plenty of time for your child to become acclimated to the area before the lesson. Also try to schedule your swim class during a low-stress time of your child’s day. If they arrive unstressed, they have a better chance of staying that way.
The Familiar Factor. At bath time, sing the songs your child hears at swim lessons. It relates the lesson to a time they enjoy in the water! Practice their newly learned skills at home in your own pool or in the tub.
How Long is too Long? On average, most crying swim students have stopped after the third lesson. At the very least you should notice that the crying is diminishing with each lesson. Your child should never be forced into the water. For difficult children we find it best to sit them on the side of the pool and let them play with some of the pool toys and watch the lessons. It is very important to not give up for the safety of your child. We have had one child that sat next to the pool and played for a full term before eventually getting into the water and is now a fun and carefree swimmer. If the crying is not diminishing, it is possible that your child may need private lessons. Some children are more comfortable with the undivided attention of a caring teacher. Feel free to discuss all your options with your deck manager.
There are also two factors that are detrimental to your child’s acclimation process:
The Bribe Factor. Don’t do it. Bribing a child to attend swim class creates a negative association with water and the learning process.
The Quit Factor. Quitting is harmful in several ways. First of all, it is detrimental to the child’s development and dashes any attempt at instilling confidence and self-esteem. Second, quitting produces a safety concern. Your child will not have an essential skill for water safety and potentially, survival.
In all except very rare cases, tearful children are cheerful by the time they have a few lessons under their belts!