Swimming lessons - DD now absolutely terrified and refusing to go

(20 Posts)
Possiblynot Sun 23-Mar-14 14:49:40

Basically as the title says. Not really sure if to back off and try again in a few months or persevere and force her crying and panicing over the lessons.

To give some background my dd (now 8) has always hated swimming every since she was small. But I have made her going to swimming lessons on and off since she was 4.

She had the school lessons and didnt do particularly well. Although towards the end she was swimming well with floats.

I enrolled her again with some more council run lessons and to be fair she was doing ok until the last lesson when they had to go into the deep end with the teacher. They had those shark fins on and woggles to help them out. The teacher was with her all the time and swam with her holding on to her hand across the pool. The poor kid was terrified!

I booked her in for another set of 10 lessons but now she does not want to go. She cries and gets all panicky. Last week I had to bribe her to go with Moshi Monsters. I keep telling her that swimming is a very important lessons like maths etc, but I am not getting through.

Tomorrow is the next lesson and I know she will kick off saying she doesnt want to go into the deep end and is scared.

I really dont know whether to back off and get her into some private lessons where there is no deep end, so stick with it for the next 9 lessons!

I dont want to scare her, but at the same time I feel she needs to learn.

Help! thanks

LIZS Sun 23-Mar-14 14:52:17

Speak to the teacher and see if she can move to a class in the shallower water . Maybe some one to one or intensive lessons would help.

JuliaScurr Sun 23-Mar-14 14:54:54

don't pressure her, she'll get worse. Preferably wait until she suggests you go with her and just mess about until she feels safe in the water. Armbands might help, rings are risky and can trap kis upside down
confidence is the main thing

CMOTDibbler Sun 23-Mar-14 14:54:57

if she's terrified, then I'd back off completely from lessons, take her to pools with shallow entries, and have fun in the water as a family - no pressure at all.
Then one to one lessons with someone sympathetic who will work with her

NaturalBaby Sun 23-Mar-14 14:57:37

Take her for a fun session in between the lessons. See if there's anything that she's interested in - kids swimming under water, going to a water park with big slides? then you can show her fun/exciting things she can do.
Talk to her about what she is scared of. Remind her that the teacher is there all the time to help.

nonicknameseemsavailable Sun 23-Mar-14 20:48:30

my daughters are having individual lessons - well the 2 of them to 1 teacher. They weren't scared of water but had never been in more than an outdoor paddling pool before so I was worried they might get really scared in a proper pool. The lady teaching them has been absolutely brilliant, very gentle, as there are only the 2 of them in the class she can pace it at their level and take it as slowly as they need her too. she gets them playing games in the water too which helps them relax. I think I would search for some one to one lessons for her if you can, ours aren't cheap (£20 for the 2 of them for half an hour) but we are just aiming to get them swimming and confident, not fussed about amazing stroke technique or anything as they have other sports they do which are more important to them so this is a short term thing really. In 6 or 7 lessons they are now very confident at going in the water, putting their heads underwater and can now swim a small way without floats. Obviously if a child is scared of water it will take longer to build confidence but I think one to one is the only way to do this and definitely she shouldn't be made to go in the deep end. that is cruel.

nonicknameseemsavailable Sun 23-Mar-14 20:49:16

a swimming pool with gentle shallow steps would be good as she could just sit on them for a bit and take her time rather than be launched into the pool.

nkf Sun 23-Mar-14 20:51:49

One to one lessons can be brilliant. I'd back off a bit though. Terrified is not good. Do you go on holidays where there is a pool and she could learn to play in water? That can be good.

hippo123 Sun 23-Mar-14 21:26:12

Why are they taking her swimming in the deep end when she can't swim? Seems mad to me. Could you afford 1:1 lessons? Are you able to take her much yourself and just have fun in shallow water?

Crossemployer Sun 23-Mar-14 21:45:52

Find a pool with really warm water. I was just the same as your daughter - having somewhere I felt comfortable, and could stay and play in because i was warm, really helped my confidence and attitude to swimming. I learnt to swim within a month in the warm water pool.

Possiblynot Mon 24-Mar-14 21:47:41

Thanks for that everyone.

I have decided to back off as she got in such a state, I said lets leave it this week and see how you feel next week.

I did suggest one to one and she did say she may prefer that as there will be no kids splashing and getting in the way.

I can see her point. The pool run 4 different lessons at the same time with 6 - 8 kids, and section off each part. The first stage is in a small square and every now and then they go off to the deep end. It is also always freezing!!

I cant swim much myself. Was forced swimming lessons when i was a kid and never really learnt. I developed a real fear and was not until recently I have been able to get in the pool myself, so was looking for reassurance I am doing the right thing by backing off.

My ex (her dad) also did a fantastic job by scaring her and making her go under water!! He can swim like a fish, but cant understand why she is so scared of the water.

There are some good teachers about and the pools are all one depth, so will start saving my pennies for private lessons.

Thanks again

nonicknameseemsavailable Mon 24-Mar-14 22:14:35

my girls love the fact that their lessons are in a hotel pool. so far there have been them in their lesson, 2 other children at the same time in the roped off area having their lesson too and then the other 2/3 of the pool is for hotel guests and there is anywhere from 1-4 people in there on average. so very little noise, very few people around etc.

They are more expensive but if you can manage to save some money to pay for them you will need fewer lessons overall to achieve the same results.

VanGogh Mon 24-Mar-14 22:27:56

IMO you really really just go swimming together and have fun. Spend time in water together, no pressure, armbands or whatever she needs. Stay in the shallow end and enjoy the time together. You being relaxed in the pool with her can only rub off on her.

Go weekly if you can. After school one day a week. Swimming and water confidence IS important, you're absolutely right but not in her current state of mind. Then, when she's happier to just go swimming perhaps introduce lessons?

grendel Mon 24-Mar-14 22:34:19

My DD initially struggled with the big group swimming lessons - not because she was scared of the water but because there was too much hanging around and messing about while they waited their turn to 'swim' a width and not enough actually doing anything. And too much shouting from the teacher to make herself heard - which DD found frightening.

Eventually I took her out of the group lessons and booked her into a short crash course over a half term: one to one swimming lessons for half an hour every day for a week. The teacher was lovely and was in the pool with her so no need to shout, constant reassurance and no opportunities to muck about. The pool was small and very warm. DD absolutely loved it and progressed more in those 5 days than in an entire year of swimming lessons.

If your DD is struggling with the big class then pushing her will just make things worse. If I were you I'd back off for a while, and then look into a short course of one to one or very small group sessions. This will build her confidence and ability, and hopefully she'll start to actually enjoy herself.

PigletJohn Mon 24-Mar-14 22:45:56

if you possibly can, let her try in seawater. Shallow rock pools are good (not the ocean). The salt water is so bouyant that it is much easier.

Thin children sink in fresh water.

Dancergirl Wed 26-Mar-14 09:49:49

I would also recommend private 1-to-1 lessons if you can afford them. My dd was also really nervous at around the same age. She had a year of private lessons (at great expense unfortunately). We had a wonderfully patient teacher who never gave up on dd even when she was grumpy and unco-operative. She had good days and bad days but we persevered and she eventually got it. She went from a child who couldn't swim and WOULD NOT get her face wet to swimming well on her front and back, jumping in and very comfortable under water. The teacher was with her in the water to give her confidence.

Quinteszilla Wed 26-Mar-14 09:53:54

"Was forced swimming lessons when i was a kid and never really learnt. I developed a real fear "

Yet you keep on with the lessons for your terrified child?

You are never going to learn anything as long as you are terrified.

If you need her to swim, book her some one on ones in a shallow pool.

Martorana Wed 26-Mar-14 09:54:36

Do you live near the sea, a canal or river or do you have an unrailed swimming pool? If not, then there is no rush for her to learn to swim.

One of the great scams of our time, this swimming lesson lark, IMHO.

ScrambledSmegs Wed 26-Mar-14 10:03:23

My DD was terrified of the water as a baby, but we took it very gently and never forced her to do anything she didn't want to. We got to the point where she was happy to get in a pool and 'swim' with armbands on for a little while as long as we were near her.

She now goes to swimming lessons with a company that never has more than two in a class, in a private gym pool. They're expensive but I think they're worth it, my previously-terrified child loves the lessons and her teacher, jumps into the pool by herself, floats happily and is very close to being able to swim unaided at the age of just 4. They don't use floatation aids, and are brilliant at giving children confidence. They definitely take 8yo's, and older.

One thing about private classes - make sure she gels with the teacher, as they work so closely together. My DD hated her first teacher so we had to switch, she adores the current one.

If you want their name I'll happily post it on thread or pm you so you can see if there are classes near you. I thoroughly recommend them.

meditrina Wed 26-Mar-14 10:09:00

As group lessons are just not working for her (and possibly making things worse) then I think you do need to stop.

She does however need to be reasonably confident in water and able to swim at least a bit before she leaves primary.

I would recommend saving for one-to-one lessons (ask around her friends' parents for recommendations of confidence-giving teachers) and trying to make the water fun. She'll still need close supervision, but being with friends at a pool, or paddling in the sea (or going rock pooling, if the presence of creatures won't make things worse) or anything that involves wet=fun might just help a bit.

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