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to make my 2 year old carry on doing swimming lessons?

(33 Posts)
needaholidaynow Mon 02-Sep-13 13:15:46

Ds1 is meant to be having a swimming lesson this afternoon. He's done 3 so far and he hates it. He's absolutely petrified of the water. It's not an enjoyable experience for either of us.

I thought he would have loved it as he loves playing in the bath/ paddling pool, but because the swimming pool is deeper than he's used to he is scared. He cries all the way through the half hour session and whilst I'm in the water with him, trying to reassure him it's okay, there just no consoling him at all.

It's in a little pool away from everyone else in the big pool, there's obviously arm bands, rubber rings and then there are little toys to play with in the water- it looks so lovely but he's not having it at all.

Part of me doesn't want to "force him", but then another part of me knows that swimming is a life skill. I knew I should have introduced him to swimming when he was younger.

VioletStar Mon 02-Sep-13 15:18:01

I first started taking DD when she was 3/4. She's so thin and was cold a lot of the time. I put her in a UV suit type thing and she coped a bit better. She would be ok in first 10 mins but by last was not following the class but we'd sit separately and just splash about - teacher said it was about helping her be happy in water not about learning to swim at that stage. She started proper lessons at about age 5 and now (she's 9) she's a little fish and likes nothing better than jumping in and swimming underwater.
Take your time and get his confidence right. Good luck.

PenelopePipPop Mon 02-Sep-13 15:12:52

Onelittletoddle that is interesting. Our DD hasn't had lessons. We just took her swimming a couple of times a week from about 3m. In her case the wobble definitely seemed to link to knowing where the bottom of the pool was in relation to her and understanding the concept of being out of her depth for the first time - which never bothered her before because she completely relied on us to support her in the water. But in a sense the underlying cause is similar - 2 year olds are independent little people, so the specific reasons why 2 year olds often get leery of swimming may vary but it prob isn't coincidence that it happens around 2.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Mon 02-Sep-13 14:45:18

My DS started at 5 and hated it. We made him go to 6 out of the 12 we'd booked (and paid in advance)
He'd just started school and was jiggered.
The class was far too big for one teacher (12 children at the start)
The swimming teacher was TBH an absolute cow. angry. It was noisy. DS couldn't hear her (I couldn't hear her and I was by the pool). She yelled at them if they didn't understand straight away (5 yo child !)
He was gaining nothing, but we made him give it a go.

Years later he did learn (and my DD) at a really good swimming class.
Patient but strict teachers. Groups of 6 in novice, 8 in capable.
Novice class had 2-3 instructors to 4 swimmers.

wateraddict Mon 02-Sep-13 14:38:55

I agree with playing in fun pools on your own and trying again later. DD swims and has done since 5 months but has had wobbles too. We have been led by her. The teacher recommended playing a lot in the bath and making them as deep as possible. Blowing bubbles so she had to put her mouth in, fetching favourite plastic toys off the bottom, sliding toys in for lots of splashing etc. she will now lie down in a shallow bath so she can dip her ears in, which she was scared to do before. She then was happy to do this in the pool. It does take time, so building confidence with games at home and in fun pools might be a fun way to get there.

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 02-Sep-13 14:29:35

PenelopePipPop I'm not sure if it's a growing sense of danger. DD had some water wobbles when she is around 2. She's now 2.5y, so it's just a few months ago. She wasn't scared at all, but was just complaining about things they make her do in the lessons. (I know she's not scared because if we went ourselves, she enjoyed it a lot). I think it's part of toddler tantrums, and not liking to do things when they don't understand what's required of them. And wanting to do things their own way.

PenelopePipPop Mon 02-Sep-13 14:24:39

Another vote for don't force it if he doesn't enjoy it.

Just a ponder, my DD lost a bit of confidence around 2 and regained it again quite quickly, we didn't do lessons but carried on going swimming, and left if she wasn't enjoying it. I wonder if this is something to do with the depth of water in many pools being a bit deep for toddlers coupled with growing awareness of the danger of water (a good thing IMO!) so they find it unsettling. Finding a pool with a graduated shallow end, going at a quiet time and just paddling might be a way to keep up his pool confidence without emphasising the swimming. Then he can start to explore again when he is ready.

Def don't worry about 'should' have anything. Children vary so much in water confidence regardless of when they start.

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 02-Sep-13 14:24:28

Definitely take him to the pool on your own. We took DD to our council pool over the summer. There was a little boy slightly older than her, probably 3. He's petrified of the water. But the parents keep taking him every week, and he's visibly improved over the weeks. They just encourage him to sit on the side of the pool and also take turns in cuddling him inside the pool. And if it cost too much to go regularly, I'm sure it won't hurt at all starting older. It's just nice they love water when you go on holiday.

And don't feel like a failure when you see all the other younger toddlers loving the water. They've probably been going since a baby. It's a very popular thing to do nowadays. Babies don't seem to be afraid of the water, and so they grow up not knowing it's scary. (It might not be a good thing since DD will jump into the pool thinking someone is always going to pull her out)!

Tailtwister Mon 02-Sep-13 14:13:33

I would second Standautocorrected's recommendation of 1-2-1 lessons. DS1 is having some this term and although he's water confident he's coming on leaps and bounds with his stroke development. Some places also do intensive week long courses in the holidays too.

Whathaveiforgottentoday Mon 02-Sep-13 14:10:51

Most children don't learn to swim properly until at least age 4/5 (always some exceptions) so I'd give the lessons a miss.
Give it a few months and then find a nice warm, pleasant pool and just take him yourself. It doesn't matter if for the 1st visit all he does is sit on the side and paddle his legs, let him take his time. Its more important at this age to be confident and enjoy the water than it is actually being able to swim.
My youngest wasn't keen on water but we've used a rubber ring and armbands which keeps her head clear out of the water and her confidence is building up slowly.
I've taught swimming for years and learning to swim is about 80% confidence. Also don't bother with lessons until he is school age.

Standautocorrected Mon 02-Sep-13 14:06:07

Yes definitely stop for a while.
Then i would find a 1-2-1 teacher if you can afford it and introduce swimming again.
My dd has a 1-2-1 and she has gained tons of confidence this way.

Sirzy Mon 02-Sep-13 13:59:39

I just take DS swimming for a splash around with me. He is 3, I may consider swimming lessons after he has started school

needaholidaynow Mon 02-Sep-13 13:57:47

Exactly. All of the other children were happy and therefore their parents were happy, so I didn't want to ruin it for them when it can be avoided.

nancerama Mon 02-Sep-13 13:48:04

Ditch the lessons, but try different pools for fun. A distressed child in a lesson often has a knock on effect of upsetting all the other children in a class. We had one in our lesson for 2 terms. I really felt for the mum, but it wasn't fair on the teacher or the other families.

dreamingbohemian Mon 02-Sep-13 13:44:40

I don't think you have to wait til he's 4 -- as I said, my son is fine now he's 3. Just keep trying once in a while and see how it goes.

needaholidaynow Mon 02-Sep-13 13:42:43

So if I left it until he's about 4ish and try again? And then take him in to the small pool every so often in between?

Christelle2207 Mon 02-Sep-13 13:35:59

Sounds sensible but dont lewve it too long. I took up lessons at 5 and am a confident swimmer. My husband on the other hand didnt learn until high school and hates the water. Says he could save himself from drowning but out of choice wont go near it. Has taken me years to convince him that swimming in sea/pool is a good thing when on holiday in hot places, but he still only goes up to his knees to cool off.

Tailtwister Mon 02-Sep-13 13:35:23

We found both of ours started to dislike swimming around the age of 2. I don't know why, but they really hated it. I just stopped taking them. Then started again around 6 months later and they were fine.

If you have a set of lessons booked I would keep going, but keep in mind it might just be a matter of waiting it out and not something you're doing wrong.

DS1 and 2 (5 & 3) love their weekly lessons now and it's a real pleasure to see them have fun in the water. When I think back to how they used to be I can't believe they are the same children!

spg1983 Mon 02-Sep-13 13:34:11

I think children can learn at whatever age. DD is 6 months and loves the water - I have taken her weekly since she was 7 weeks old. DSS is 7yrs old and until this year he never went regularly, we've started taking him every 1-2 weeks and he now swims underwater and has no fear whatsoever. Just goes to show that any age is ok as long as they are happy in the water. Maybe take a break OP and try again when DS is more confident. But don't worry at all - there's always time for swimming.

ksrwr Mon 02-Sep-13 13:34:04

my friend has a son who absolutely hated private lessons in a quiet small pool, but loved the slides and noise of a massive public pool... could be worth a try?

FranSanDisco Mon 02-Sep-13 13:31:14

We started dd at about the same age as your ds and she hated it also. We left it until she was 4.6 and about to start school and she picked it up much better. She was swimming lengths within a few months and loved it. I think YABU to force something at this age.

needaholidaynow Mon 02-Sep-13 13:28:09

I'm going to leave it. I just needed people's opinions on this because I just didn't know what to do for the best.

BrianTheMole Mon 02-Sep-13 13:26:32

I'd leave it and try again when he's older. My ds did this and we stopped, the stress was too much. He's booked in again for lessons when he is 4. Dd was the same, we stopped and went back when she was older. She loves the water now.

dreamingbohemian Mon 02-Sep-13 13:26:27

No, don't force it.

My DS hated the pool when he was 2, now at 3 he absolutely loves it. Was really just like a switch going off, not sure why he changed his mind, but we never pushed it on him.

mrsmalcolmreynolds Mon 02-Sep-13 13:26:23

DD has been a bit sticky off and on with her swimming lessons but we stuck with it and now seems sorted. However, she's older (started at 3.6, now 3.10) and her reaction was never as extreme as you describe. I think 2 is quite young for formal lessons and would be inclined to leave it a few months, keep on with less formal exposure to the water in the meantime to avoid a complex about the water developing.

JuliaScurr Mon 02-Sep-13 13:22:21

I think you will do more harm than good - take him to a shallow fun pool instead. My swimming teacher friend said there is no point trying to teach kids to swim until they are comfortable in the water. Your ds seems to be getting more uncomfortable.

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