Crying in swimming lessons

(19 Posts)
Swimwithjo Wed 16-Oct-13 10:15:17

Your poor baby.
As a swimming teacher I see many babies cry, even if they are good at swimming with their family... Often it's the separation which causes the minor upset. The age ranges between 2 1/2 and 5+ Depending on previous experience and confidence. But it's how you deal with the tears which will make all the difference. New swimmers have one to one support with me, if needed and are encouraged to have fun - feel good about moving in the water and play games.... Even sing songs! Provided they have boyancy aids on ( arm bands, back floats..) touching the floor in not necessary, if the teacher is in the water, it is best to have no more than 2 or 3 in, especially if young! Cost may be more though on this ratio... But it works! It is true swimming as a family is good, I do this with my boys all the time, but do TRY to support swimming teachers and show them the right way to swim. Ie: how to breath to the side for front crawl. Kick straight legs... This will really be the best way to help your babies develop well!
Good luck with your daughter, I Prey you help her back into swimming, it is normal for them to cry for first 2 - 3 lessons, this users normal!
But on this occasion as she was left for so long you did right to get her out. Xx hope this helps!

Elibean Sat 12-Oct-13 12:06:25

Hats off to you, OP, for listening to your instincts and your dd smile

dd2 had her first formal swimming lesson a few weeks ago. She could manage about 10 metres out of her depth, when feeling safe in a pool on holiday, but is really just beginning to learn proper strokes - she's 6.

The wretched swimming teacher barely said hello, had her out of her depth pushing her to do lengths, compared her to another child (unfavourably), and told her she was a big girl and shouldn't be crying - when she inevitably started to panic and give up. It was awful. As she's not my first, and I'm old enough to not care what all the watching parents thought, I tried explaining to him that he was pushing her too fast and that she wasn't that confident/able yet. Then when he got defensive and kept up the 'I think she is fine' and dd carried on quietly sobbing, I told him this wasn't going to work and pulled her out of the lesson.

Two weeks of 'upset tummy' at the thought of swimming lessons, then we finally started somewhere else with a lovely man who let dd go at her own pace, where she can touch the floor, where he talks to her and actually makes a relationship with his pupils. Within two lessons, she was doing a length of back crawl, front crawl, and jumping in - totally different experience.

I've come across the odd 'bully' type swimming teacher - and lessons that feel like 'bullying' no matter how well meant. I'm not an advocate of teaching through fear - overcoming fear takes support and a sense of being a little bit in control, not force. I wish I'd known about MN and been able to get this kind of support as a parent when dd1 was teeny and hated swimming lessons - had to get there by trial and error smile

shebird Fri 11-Oct-13 19:03:46

Try to find a pool where the floor can be raised so children can touch the bottom. In the meantime take her swimming as much as possible for fun as the main thing at this age is to learn to be happy in the water. Only when she is happy playing, splashing and putting her face in the water will she actually learn to swim.

pmTea Wed 09-Oct-13 11:12:54

Bloody hell! I'm not surprised she cried. i think most of the kids I know would cry. I would cry!
At 3 they should be able to see you at all times for reassurance and incidentally I don't know of any course for children that young that doesn't ask the parents to be in the pool.
Sounds to me like this class is not for you or for your daughter - I would take her out before she develops a real fear of being in a pool.

Glenshee Mon 16-Sep-13 00:31:10

Also, next time I would try somewhere else smile The way the situation was handled is very hmm

Glenshee Mon 16-Sep-13 00:29:15

My DD went through a stage of being terrified too, when she was around that age. Her older brother was 5 and was doing swimming lessons, but she wouldn't be persuaded to join in. She was also saying that it's too deep. Would go into the pool with me, but not independently, for a lesson with someone else.

She then started swimming lessons at 5, full of confidence, very keen and very happy. She finds it very funny that she was afraid to go in the pool when she was 3 smile

I'd forget about it for a while, and try again in a year or so.

lljkk Sun 15-Sep-13 15:52:14

She can't stand confidently on the bottom? Did I read that right?
I don't see the point of swimming lessons below 5yo anyway, and definitely not if they are crying thru the whole thing (I had this for 8 weeks with DD, btw, so can't say I haven't tried it!).

Probably a good idea to take her yourself fairly soon a few times so she doesn't start feeling scared - but don't take her out of her depth until she is happy putting her face under the water. Ds isn't starting lessons until he is 4.5yrs as he won't be able to follow the teachers and really benefit - even though he can already swim 2 m underwater.

NellysKnickers Wed 07-Aug-13 08:04:29

Sounds like the best plan. I'm not really a fan of swimming lessons so young, ds1 learnt just by family swims and splashing about having FUN. He went swimming with his school this year (yr 3) and was one of the only two to gain their 25m. Maybe try again when she's a bit bigger.

floppops Wed 07-Aug-13 07:58:28

Well DD doesn't want to go this morning. She says the water is too deep. Which seems a reasonable reason to me. I'll try and go swimming with her more often and then try with lessons again when she's a bit older.

Is this the Viking school of swimming by any chance? I don't think a child should be left hanging on the side like that. To an extent they do sometimes need to be in deeper water so that they don't just touch the bottom all the time, but that is only once they are confident in the water. Is she used to being in the water? It also depends on the child. With dd2 it all had to be done v slowly as she was fairly cautious in the water. Ds however is kamikaze bolder and it doesn't phase him jumping into deep water whether the accompanying parent is watching him or not. Have they made claims about whether they will get them swimming quickly - maybe they feel under pressure to get them swimming.

chauffeurmummy Tue 06-Aug-13 22:11:08

It's really hard with swimming as for most children there is an element of having to get over a fear. However I would be incredibly uncomfortable with anyone that expected me to keep out of the way - especially if my child was distressed. For my dds first lesson (at 4.2) I chose to leave her and retreat to the the cafe (where I could watch through the glass) as I didn't want to be a distraction and I wanted her to focus. However, I would have been straight round there if she had been upset. Children aren't going to gain confidence by being scared into it - it just doesn't work like that.

Rooners Tue 06-Aug-13 17:53:37

Definitely go with her.

floppops Tue 06-Aug-13 16:30:16

Yes I think all your responses are totally right.
Seems so old fashioned to expect them to just get over being terrified!
My mum says I cried too and I remember actually being thrown in!
I'd be much happier if she could stand up in the water and no she isn't that used to going swimming.
We were going as a friends child who she's friends with is going and thought they'd support each other.
I'm just not sure whether to not go as maybe that'll reinforce any fear? Or is that over thinking?

Rooners Tue 06-Aug-13 16:22:19

Trust your instincts and go with your own plan. they sound like a bunch of eejits. Who terrifies a 3yo into submission, or submersion, in this day and age?

It's very stupid and probably counterproductive for a lot of children - you know, the ones who no longer attend because they are now petrified of the water.

I'd be boycotting them tbh but if she wants to go again then do what you think best.

impecuniousmarmoset Tue 06-Aug-13 16:15:58

Sounds crap. The other day I took my dd out of a swimming lesson with a supply teacher whose first actions were to splash water in the kids faces. That went down really well with my DD who is incredibly wary and nervous of the water. When I challenged her, she said 'well they cant' learn to swim if they don't have water splashed in their face' hmm. Where they find these idiots whose teaching ideas seem to be stuck in the 1950s, I don't know. But taking our children out of lessons in such circumstances seems entirely reasonable to me.

EasterHoliday Tue 06-Aug-13 16:12:17

can you find a lesson where they have a platform in the pool so that they can stand up until they can swim? 3 is very little, and the last thing you want to do is put her off swimming for life

Bakingtins Tue 06-Aug-13 16:09:01

I think you know your own child best. It sounds a lot to expect of a 3 yr old, assuming it's a new situation, unfamiliar teacher etc. Is she used to going swimming?

My DS went from a mum and toddler class to swimming lessons without a parent when he was three - but with the same teacher. The lesson is in the shallow end of the baby pool so he can stand up most of the lesson - they take them down to the deep end for a few minutes at the end to jump in and to swim with a woggle out of their depth.

Parents sit at the side nearest the lesson, to be on hand if toilet trips or time out are required! I think if a child was upset they'd have no issue with the parent stepping in to intervene.
I don't think I'd go back TBH, I'd ask for a refund and find someone more sympathetic and prepared to take it at the child's pace.

floppops Tue 06-Aug-13 15:57:03

My DD is 3 and has just started a week swimming course-half hour each morning.
She was fine going there and then getting in but was terrified as she couldn't reach the bottom. The teacher had 4 of the children holding on to the side. We weren't allowed in and we were asked to sit at the other end of the pool where the children couldn't see us.
My DD was hysterical for about 10 minutes screaming that she couldn't hold on any longer.
I went and got her out then and she played along on the side with the teacher and then got in again for a minute before the end.
The teachers were very unhappy with me getting her out and staying with her. They said I should let her cry and she would settle.
I just don't think it's right to let a 3 year old be frightened and cry for half an hour just for a swim lesson?
Maybe I'm being soft. Certainly felt a bit awkward.
DD wants to go back so I will take her but I'm not prepared to disappear from her view whilst she's frightened and I will pull her out again if she cries for a longtime.

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