2 YO swimming lessons - is it the case you have to be cruel to be kind with forcing her underwater?

(54 Posts)
Reastie Mon 10-Jun-13 18:06:43

Any advice on this?

DD is nearly 2.5. We have been doing swimming lessons for several months. She has always hated going underwater or getting her face wet. She's gone through a couple of phases where she has screamed through the whole lesson pretty much and it's directly related to fear of going underwater and she chokes every time she goes underwater and has cried afterwards. She seems to slowly build up confidence again whilst I don't put her underwater but then as soon as she thinks I might she goes back to square one with being scared and crying through the lessons.

I'm feeling like an awful mother about this. My gut instinct is to not put her under the water at all and keep her happy and build her confidence and in time she'll learn to swim, and if she never likes putting her head under water then it doesn't matter, she'll just swim doggy paddle forever more. She won't win swimming galas but then who cares about that... However, my swimming teacher is strongly of the position that I need to be cruel to be kind and in the long run it's the best thing for her just forcing her in as it will make her a more confident swimmer in the long term and by me saying no to her going underwater I'm stifling her progress and ability.

Bestseller Mon 10-Jun-13 18:09:55

Really, you want advice?

I'd stop wasting your money. Keep taking her swimming to she's used to the water and you can have fun and exercise together, then try again after she's started school.

Pre-school swimming lessons with DS1 were torture, in the end I gave up, but should have done much sooner. He started formal lessons again about a term after he started school and within a few weeks had caught up with his peers.

boysrock Mon 10-Jun-13 18:12:44

I would listen to your instincts. Ds is quite a bit older than your dd and has recently been coerced into doing something he wasn't comfortable with- jumping in at the deep end and not a confident swimmer by any means. He now hatws swimming lessons and refuses to go back.

Fwiw I dont see how inducing panic and choking is going to help with confidence. Surely a bit more confidence first would help? Maybe its just me being too soft. [Confused]

TheYamiOfYawn Mon 10-Jun-13 18:12:51

my kid's preschool swimming teacher would not, under ant circumstances, make a child go underwater without their permission. I'd stop those classes and go swimming together, or fu.d a class with a teacher who respects your child a bit more.

RalphGnu Mon 10-Jun-13 18:12:51

Oh, please don't force her underwater, not a little 2 year old. Well, not any child of any age. This was done to me as a child by a sadistic swimming teacher at school and it made me absolutely terrified of water for many years. Follow your instincts. The swimming teacher sounds like a dick.

I'd stop lessons and start again when she is a bit older. Neither of mine did lessons until they were 4years old. In the meantime go to the pool as a family and play and do splashing, etc and build up her confidence. Dont force her to do anything she isnt ready for and isnt happy doing as that will be counter-productive. She doesnt need to swim at 2½ years old and there is plenty of time for her to learn and progress at her own pace.

peeriebear Mon 10-Jun-13 18:15:50

I don't like getting my face wet and I can swim, but not underwater. If somebody forced me underwater I would probably beat the tar out of them. Please don't listen to the teacher!

CMOTDibbler Mon 10-Jun-13 18:17:24

Stop the lessons, and take her to pools where she can play in the water and do things at her own pace. Shes only 2.5, and imo theres no need for her to go underwater at all

intheshed Mon 10-Jun-13 18:21:38

No please don't! I am very dubious of all these baby/preschool lessons that involve lots of underwater swimming. I did Waterbabies with DD1 and none of the babies seemed to enjoy the underwater aspect of it, then DD just kept getting recurrent ear infections. We stopped and now she is 5 and has just started having 'proper' lessons again and is doing really well, including going underwater.

With DD2 we just take her to the pool regularly and let her build up her confidence naturally.

Aranea Mon 10-Jun-13 18:22:15

The teacher sounds awful. The advice I was given by my DC's swimming teacher (which worked) was to practice getting the face wet in the bath, and then get them to practice putting their face in the bath to pick up spoons. Maybe with a star chart. I think forcing the issue is a horrible and self-defeating idea.

Aranea Mon 10-Jun-13 18:24:11

But in fact, thinking about it further, if I were you I'd back right off it for a few months until she forgets what a huge issue it is for her, and then try in a much gentler way.

tacal Mon 10-Jun-13 18:27:14

I stopped lessons and started taking ds to the local pool where he is relaxed and has fun. He is getting on much better learning things at his own pace. I am going to do the same as bestseller and start lessons again once ds is at school. I would say follow your instincts.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Mon 10-Jun-13 18:29:22

I'd stop it too. You can start lessons again in 18 months time. This sounds like its just going to give you the opposite effect of putting her off

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Mon 10-Jun-13 18:32:04

Your swimming teacher is wrong and if it is forced you will almost certainly end up with an adult who hates swimming and getting her face wet.

Just because she hates it now, at 2.5 doesn't mean that tackled gently and in her own time that she will always be that way. I had a small girl who went through a period of being absolutely terrified of swimming despite the fact that she had been since she was a tiny baby. We backed off, we still went to the pool but allowed her time and space to overcome her fears. Today that child still represents her county at swimming (she's now 23).

Lavenderloves Mon 10-Jun-13 18:32:46

Stop it! Goodness me, would you force her up the highest climbing frame whilst she was crying?

These classes are so expensive, you can do just as much in your local pool and have fun. She will never love it if you force her.

Reastie Mon 10-Jun-13 18:34:06

Thanks. I should say the teacher is lovely and kind and not a meanie at all but we seem to have differing opinions on this. I said if it were me going under the water in her situ I'd hate it too and she said that's different as I'm an adult and I think differently and children need to do things they don't like if it's good for them (she said all this in a nice way but I'm still confused ). I said I ask DD every week if she's going to go under water and want to respect that if she says no then she doesn't have to but teacher argued that she shouldn't have the choice in this. I'm nervous of putting her off forever and giving her a 'thing' about it.

DD otherwise when she knows she won't go underwater and trusts me has a fab time splashing around. She has a friend at the class and has a great time playing with her afterwards.

The teacher will always ask me before putting DD under the water and does respect it when I say no, but I do feel like I'm being talked/pressured a bit into saying yes and that I'm a bad mother for saying no (that's probably me being over sensitive though). I initially went along with her tactic as I assumed she was the professional so knew more than me about these things but it's so heart breaking and we have seen no progress from putting her underwater so far. Maybe that's because we haven't done it enough or maybe it's not the best thing for DD. I don't know if I've got it in me to keep trying though.

FWIW there isn't lots of underwater swimming like some classes, but the lessons do involve jumping in the water (so going underwater) and being dunked completely underwater and similar as part of some of the activities. It's all done in a toddlery way with fun songs etc.

aranea she has said to get DD with her head underwater in the bath and encouraging splashing etc in the bath, which we do and DD is much happier with as she can feel the bottom as it's shallow so feels safe. I love the picking up spoons with the mouth idea - might try that tomorrow smile

Thanks for the comments. I'm probably painting the lovely teacher out to be worse than she is, but in the regard of putting DD underwater she is convinced about her method. It's nice to know I'm not making a fuss of nothing and not the only person to feel like this though.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 10-Jun-13 18:34:28

2.5 is not the right age to do the underwater stuff. If you don't start before 6 months, you are best to wait until they are 4 or so, really.

With DD1 and DS, we started taking them to the pool as soon as they had had their jabs but we did the traditional floaty seat, floats, woggles thing, and then they learned to swim at about 4, they only had lessons once they could swim. With DD2, on the other hand, we did the chucking in the water at 12 weeks thing. And it was amazing, she swam right away and has never stopped. And she does adore the water, but if you looked at her now, at age 9, she isn't any better in the water than the other two were at her age. She is great, but so were they. The difference is, it made life easier for the family as a whole to have her swimming right from the start and not having to go through all that 'learn to swim' stuff when she was 4 - it wouldn't have gone down well with the other two. But that is the only difference.

Reastie Mon 10-Jun-13 18:35:08

hell well done your DD on the swimming smile

Stop the lessons! She is two, and she is not having fun. There is no other reason to do swimming lessons with a 2yo.

My elder two children started lessons at 3 and 5 respectively. They both got safe at swimming (as in, get themselves out of deep water if they fell in) at 7ish. And swimming properly at 8. I wish I hadn't bothered with lessons till they where 6! Ds2 is starting now at 5.5 cos he is desperate to be like his siblings - but he is doing the lessons cos he loves it. If he didn't, I'd wait longer.

Wait a bit and then take her to a pool that has a toddler pool she can stand in, take toys, have lots of fun. She may yet be winning swimming galas when she's 8!

I agree with Russians -- either start underwater as a baby or wait until later. Focus on enjoying "swimming"/having fun in the pool for now and then at four or five she'll almost certainly have no problem with being taught to put her face underwater.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Mon 10-Jun-13 18:43:14

I'd stop even asking her. It isn't going to happen yet so there isn't any point in my mind in setting that anxiety in her head every week. With good, fun swimming sessions/lessons you'll probably find that it happens naturally when your DD is ready, be it by jumping in or wanting to fetch a toy off the bottom like her friends.

chartreuse Mon 10-Jun-13 18:47:54

No! Please don't. At 2.5 you could put her off swimming for life. She can have fun in the water at her age and has the rest of her life to learn to swim.

yetanotherworry Mon 10-Jun-13 19:03:45

She shouldn't be choking. Do you blow in her face before submerging her? This encourages her to take a deep breath and close her mouth. I think if she has got to the point where she is terrified, you now need to take a step back. Is she happy getting water on her face in the bath? What happens if she its on the side of the pool and jumps in?

anchovies Mon 10-Jun-13 19:10:10

I would just take her swimming for fun, playing games and singing songs. Really build up her confidence. Does she like the shower? We were always quite haphazard about washing hair making sure faces get wet and it transferred to swimming smile

I'd stop taking her for these 'lessons' and just find a mum and baby/toddler swim session at a public pool.

We went to these with my children from about 6 weeks old, they just had fun, splashed about, then when they started proper lessons at 4 years old, they were confident in the water.

I learned to swim at 6 and spent all my life swimming with my face under water till I did an adult improver course at age 32!

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