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To stop dd2's swimming lessons

(35 Posts)
mrsshackleton Fri 19-Oct-12 16:55:02

DD2 is 5. Her sister is 7 and swims reasonably well, (she's dyspraxic so will never be a star), having had lessons for 3 years with the local swimming teacher who teaches the whole neighbourhod.
DD2 is a feisty character generally, but has always been nervous in the water. She had some one-ton-one lessons with this teacher when she was 4 but was so argumentative with him (masking her fear) that he stopped them. She started group lessons in the summer and seemed to be progressing OK, but now the class is moving on, ditching armbands, jumping in etc and dd2 is having none of it. Last week she cried throughout the lesson, so the teacher asked her to get out. Today, on the way home from school she started crying again, saying she was frightened of jumping in, not using armbands etc.

So I've said OK, no more swimming lessons for a few months until you're brave enough to try again. Have left a message for the teacher to tell him so. Was that the right thing to do? And how, long term, will I get her to overcome this fear? Thanks

Yes. Forcing her to go when she's already afraid will turn this into a real phobia.

Maybe leave it a few months then take her yourself, make it a fun, special thing you do together and just take it gently, push her limits very slowly. When she has her confidence back you can think about lessons but until then, unless you can find a one to one teacher who specialises in nervous swimmers, don't waste your money

avivabeaver Fri 19-Oct-12 16:58:21

totally right thing to do.

take her yourself. let her use armbands, floats or whatever she wants until she is really happy.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 19-Oct-12 16:58:36

YANBU. Leave out lessons and take her along yourself so that she can play about in the water in a more relaxed environment. Main thing for safety is that she's confident enough in the water not to sink like a stone. Not swimming at all would be a mistake. Keep swimming but keep the arm-bands on until she's a lot happier.

WorraLiberty Fri 19-Oct-12 16:59:36


But why don't you teach her?

Northernlurkerisbehindyouboo Fri 19-Oct-12 17:02:33

When I was about her age I saw a Grange Hill episode where a child drowned in the pool (what the heck they were doing showing that I have no idea) I have (as a direct result I believe) had a fear of the deep end of pools and swimming in general. It is only now I am 35 and we have holidayed for two years in a location with an on site pool that I have overcome my fear enough to swim and float and tread water in the deep end.
You've done absolutely the right thing. You cannot talk somebody out of being scared like this. It's a very basic thing. Just let her have fun and feel safe for now.

imperialstateknickers Fri 19-Oct-12 17:02:45

Do you swim yourself? You can teach her not to be petrifield of water by playing together.
Is there only one pool locally? Could be worth starting afresh (in a few months) elsewhere away from association with local pool and teacher.

mrsshackleton Fri 19-Oct-12 17:09:55

I do swim with her when I can (usual time constraints apply), as does my dh. She is fine with armbands (she didn't even use to be OK with those and clung to the edge), she just refuses utterly to remove them. I'll continue doing that then. The current teacher is very nice and understanding, I put her in lessons because a) she wanted to be like her ds and b) I thought if she refused to remove armbands for me, she might for a teacher she wanted to impress. Thanks, laydeez, glad (so far) you think I'm doing the right thing.

Backtobedlam Fri 19-Oct-12 17:10:24

Have you seen the Swimfin? We just got one for dd and they're fab, helps them to float but still able to move their arms and legs, that way when she's ready to go without aids it will be a much smaller transition to make. I'd also consider trying somewhere else for lessons, I'd have thought the instructor should encourage each child at their own level, and that should include confidence level.

CaptainVonTrapp Fri 19-Oct-12 17:13:52


I'm surprised he asked her to get out. Would have thought at this age the aim would be to find a way to make her feel safe so that she can then progress.

Backtobedlam Fri 19-Oct-12 17:16:58

Xposted-sounds like the instructor has been understanding.

VerySmallSqueak Fri 19-Oct-12 17:19:22

The other thing to do is see if you can negotiate.Would she be happy to go if she can keep the armbands and not jump in? Would the teacher accommodate this if it was explained that this is not her being difficult,but she's genuinely scared.
I fear that if she stops it may be harder to overcome the obstacle - though,of course, to scare or pressurize her now is not the way forward.

OwedToAutumn Fri 19-Oct-12 17:19:47

Apparently Mark Phelps never had a swimming lesson until he was 7, and cried because he was afraid of the water.


mrsshackleton Fri 19-Oct-12 17:25:38

Love that about Mark Phelps! Yay. Not that Olympic glory is my aim, I would like to be able to go on holiday and see dd2 having fun in the water like her sister (and be safe too, obv)

In fairness to the instructor, he is teaching a group, he doesn't have time to coax and cajole one child beyond a certain point. If one child is freaking out, the others suffer. He and I have discussed keeping her in with armbands but now everyone else is far ahead of her, and I think that's making her even more upset because she knows she's being wussy and so gets even more wound up. Will google swimfins. Thanks.

WestYorkshirePudding Fri 19-Oct-12 17:30:07

Hmm, I'm going to buck the trend and say I'd keep her going. I know you feel awful but I think stopping may mean she never wants to go to swimming lessons again.

The same thing happened to DS2 earlier this year when he was just 5. The older kids in the class took their armbands off and DS2 copied them. He wasn't ready to do that, got out of his depth and started floundering in the water. He cried and said he didn't want to go back. It was awful, every night he'd ask if it was swimming lessons the next day and on the actual day we could hardly get him near the pool.

However he got in, didn't sink and got through it. The week after wasn't as bad and a few weeks after he was fine and even attempted a width without the armbands.

I'd send her TBH as in a few weeks she may be fine. In a few months it could be even harder trying to get her to go.

pointyfangs Fri 19-Oct-12 18:46:27

I agree, stop the lessons - but do keep going with herself and work towards changing the armbands for a woggle. You can do a lot of stroke practice, streamlining practice etc. using a woggle, you can jump in holding one under the arms and then work towards jumping in and then getting the woggle - it can be a really useful bridging tool towards letting go and swimming independently.

Soapysuds64 Fri 19-Oct-12 19:13:32

I bought my dd (aged 4ish) a fin from centre Parcs - you strap it to their back, and it helps them float without getting in the way. Also, as their bouyancy improves, the fin comes out of the water so it is automatically used less. Would definitely recommend.

seeker Fri 19-Oct-12 19:18:57

I really don't get this obsession with swimming lessons. Being able to swim a length of a warm pool won't help you if you get swept out to sea, or fall into a river or a lake or something. It's just something else that's been sold to parents as an essential and which we all just do because we think we must.

Save the money, take them to play in the pool at the weekend, and they'll learn to swim in their own time.

amck5700 Fri 19-Oct-12 19:19:52

I wouldn't have taken her out. You may struggle to get her to go back and she's now learned that if she cries a bit she doesn't have to do things. Swimming is a life skill and a life saver. She might have been a bit scared for a couple of weeks and then settled down again.

But then I am a hard woman!

youarewinning Fri 19-Oct-12 19:21:36

IME your doing the right thing.

seeker Fri 19-Oct-12 19:22:02

" Swimming is a life skill and a life saver."

Is it? How often is a 5 year old in circumstances where swimming is a life saver?

amck5700 Fri 19-Oct-12 19:24:45

How often is a 5 year old in circumstances where swimming is a life saver Every time the are near water that they may fall in.

seeker Fri 19-Oct-12 19:27:09

As I said, as long as they fall into clear, warm still water then the swimming they learn in the pool might save them.

seeker Fri 19-Oct-12 19:28:00

While wearing a swimming costume and goggles

amck5700 Fri 19-Oct-12 19:33:22

If they learn not to be scared in the water then regardless of whether it is clear, still or warm, they have a better chance than if they can't swim at all.

Personally I'd do everything I could to increase my child's chances of survival and as I said, I'm a hard woman and I wouldn't want my kids to think it's ok not to do something important just because they find it a bit scary. The OPs child is clearly not terrified, she needs coaxing to take the next step. A terrified child is a different case entirely. Think how good the little one would feel when she finally manages to jump in.

Not my child, so not my choice. I don't think the OP is being unreasonable, but imo I wouldn't take her out lessons now that she has started.

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