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DCs (age 8 and 10) can't swim or ride bikes

(330 Posts)
iwouldgoouttonight Sun 16-Jul-17 13:32:28

It's more of a what would you do really. I feel like such a failure as a parent. If one child couldn't swim or ride a bike I might think that was their personality and they weren't a very physical person but as it's both of them I guess it's our fault.

They went to swimming lessons for about a year when they were younger (about 4 and 6) and they didn't enjoy it but I kept encouraging them to go. But by the end although DC1 had moved up a group they still both hated it, to the stage where they'd have only got in the water if I'd physically picked them up and put them in screaming and crying (which I wasn't going to do).

DP can't swim so I thought I'd take them swimming each week and teach them myself. They enjoy being in the water and DC1 has got to the stage where he can 'swim' under water and is very confident but can't do an actual stroke and can't lift his head out to breathe without putting his feet on the floor. DC2 can't put her face in the water despite lots of encouragement. She's done it once, hated it, refuses to do it again.

Similar with bikes, they both had bikes, we tried with stabilisers, tried with taking the pedals off and going down a slight slope to get them balancing. But every time they'd get upset, say they don't want to do it and everyone would get stressed. We tried one to one and also with them both trying together. They've now both outgrown the bikes they had so they don't have bikes and it doesn't seem worth buying another one for it to sit in the shed with them refusing to ride it.

DP and I both cycle to work so they're see cycling as a normal every day activity but they just don't want to learn. DC1 had bikability at school and he refused to take part there too.

I'm not as bothered about the cycling but I would like them to learn to swim but I have no idea how to go about it. I thought one to one lessons might help but they don't want to go.

They're really well behaved and as enthusiastic about other things, and will try new things. Eg DC1 went on a school trip to an outdoor pursuits centre and tried abseiling, kayaking, etc. and enjoyed it.

Any ideas?? Saying 'learning to swim is non-negotiable in our house', as some RL friends have said, isn't helpful, we know it's important, but you can't physically force a child to do it.

Holidayhooray Sun 16-Jul-17 13:35:04

Re swimming
All depends on budget.
We have thrown money at swimming. 1-2-1 lessons and now 4 and 6 are very competent swimmers at a strokes.
If that's too pricey, then group classes for sorting out strokes.

Biking, they're missing out but if they don't want to learn hard to know what to do. Although I suspect they might say they don't want to learn to avoid the embarrassment of the process at 10 years old

Skinandbones Sun 16-Jul-17 13:38:58

I can't swim still, it's a fear of water for me, but my oldest dd would take the other DDs swiming.As for bike riding none of them could ever get the hang of it. My 23ds has just bought a bike to use to and from work, he sneaks out early on a morning to practice, he still can't get the hang of it. Wonder if it's a balance thing.

iwouldgoouttonight Sun 16-Jul-17 13:43:47

Holidayhooray we'd pay for one to one lessons if we thought they'd work, but it's getting the DCs to actually get in the water and try to learn when they don't want to. DC1 says he doesn't need lessons because he can swim. Although he clearly can't because he can only go as far as he can hold his breath and then has to put his feet down.

Highlyinternational Sun 16-Jul-17 13:43:57

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x2boys Sun 16-Jul-17 13:44:15

will they be doing swimming in school ds1 did in yr three and got his 25 metres he could swim as he had had some lessons regarding cycling ds1 is ten he only learnt this yr we got him a mountain bike for his birthday and he couldnt get his balance at all so we got a cheap second hand bike that was a bit too small his feet touched the floor completeley for him dh taught him to ride it within an hr and as soon as he could ride that he could ride his mountain bike.

Friendzone Sun 16-Jul-17 13:44:30

Do they have school swimming lessons? They might be a bit less inclined to play up if they were with their friends?

BrieAndChilli Sun 16-Jul-17 13:44:58

Our kids age 10, 8 and 6 can't ride bikes, DS1 has hyper mobility and poor muscle tone so just can't put the force in that is needed to turn the pedals, by the time he was old enough for us to think we should really put the effort into teaching him we had 3 young children so it just didn't work taking them all out and trying to teach them. We don't have a big enough garden for them to mess around on thier bikes so we would need to take them in the car which is also hard to do with 3 of them plus 3 bikes.

Mouikey Sun 16-Jul-17 13:46:07

I have total and utter irrational fear of sharks (in swimming pools - see irrational) and have done since I was very very small (I think around 2/3). But I do swim and at times enjoy it!

We started our lives littlenone seimming at 6 weeks and my hubby takes her so that any of my silliness doesn't rub off on her. If they enjoy it when your there, can you not get an instructor to join you and teach in a more unstructured way - after a while your kids will get to know them, get some basics and feel more confident joining a class?

Mouikey Sun 16-Jul-17 13:47:06

Little one swimming (not lives littlenone seinmming)!!!

TheWitchAndTrevor Sun 16-Jul-17 13:48:08

I'm surprised they were allowed to kayak if they couldn't swim.

With the swimming I think you would just have to tell them how important it is to learn.

If they don't learn it could stop them from doing lots of stuff later that there peers will be off enjoying.

Drumming in the safety side of it being able to swim too.

PopOfNothing Sun 16-Jul-17 13:49:12

Definitely don't force the cycling, my mum forced me to learn to ride a bike when I was about 5 and I still hate cycling 30 odd years later. I haven't sat on a bike since I was about 16.

MrsOverTheRoad Sun 16-Jul-17 13:50:00

I have one DC who can JUST about swim. She had lessons which was a nightmare as she barely participated, so when she was about 8 I got her a private swimming teacher in a pool with nobody else in it...she refused to get in! This went on for weeks. Her teacher was lovely but DD is very determined.

She's 13 now and gets by...though I'd rather she could swim I can't beat myself up about it.

antimatter Sun 16-Jul-17 13:52:03

you can hire someone to teach them to ride, I'd say 2-3 of 1 hour coaching would do
my friend did it when neither parents were able to teach their son

Tilapia Sun 16-Jul-17 13:52:14

I think swimming is really important, so what I would do is book swimming lessons for both DC and them every single week. I agree you can't force them into the water crying and screaming, but they don't get to miss the lesson / go home early / play on the iPad either. So if they refuse to get in, they still have to sit and watch the lesson. Hopefully they'll realise that's more boring than getting in and taking part?

Highlyinternational Sun 16-Jul-17 13:52:19

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Zaphodsotherhead Sun 16-Jul-17 13:52:27

How about getting those 'trailer bikes' for your and DH's bikes and going out for bike 'rides' where they don't really have to peddle or put much effort in? They are getting to the age where they want to assert independence, so if you can make cycling seem like a really fun thing to do, whilst taking them along with you, might that work to get them to see how much more fun they could have if they could do it alone?

With swimming, sorry, no help to offer. I know lots of adults who never learned to swim and have no desire to. Maybe take them to the beach/let them play (with supervision, obviously) somewhere there is water, but it's more of a play thing - and then take it from there?

Highlyinternational Sun 16-Jul-17 13:52:45

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ReinettePompadour Sun 16-Jul-17 13:53:49

I would say swimming is really important. You need to just take them and don't ask them if they want to go. Its going to be a case of 'get in the car its swimming tonight' without making any discussion about it.

They may actually find it easier with other children in a group at first and then if they don't like it tell them the alternative is one to one. Don't give them an alternative option such as 'giving it up'. Its really a safety issue. And I understand you may not live near water but there will be occasions where you are near a river/beach/canal and accidents do happen. Most primary schools offer swimming too and my experience is that their lessons are generally crap because of time constraints (around 10 minutes in the water a week for 1 term a year here) . Its worth spending the money if you can afford it to get your children lessons outside of school.

Cycling is just one of those things. Some kids spend forever on their bikes and never get off others cant balance for toffee.

Maybe try getting one of those poles that attach your childs bike to your bike and make it a weekly thing of going out altogether. Eventually your child will want to zoom off ahead and you can then move onto individual bikes.

00100001 Sun 16-Jul-17 13:54:01

If anything I'd push the cycling over swimming. It's more useful in every day life than swimming

Zaphodsotherhead Sun 16-Jul-17 13:54:06

pedal ffs.

Crispbutty Sun 16-Jul-17 13:54:28

If your kids are going to go on residential activity trips, not being able to swim or ride a bike will mean them being left out while their mates are having fun.

Shinesun09 Sun 16-Jul-17 13:55:16

Link for cycle instructors.

We did bike lessons for our dc, he was not interested in learning with us at all, hated bikes, tears whenever we suggested it

I booked him a lesson with instructor told him to just try it, only a half hour lesson.
He picked it up within that initial half hour, had another half hour to learn some
Skills and now I can't get him off his bike!

As for the swimming - it's non negotiable in our house, I had a family member almost drown in the shallow end of a pool because they couldn't swim.
I have probably spent hundreds on swimming lessons over the years for my dc but I see it as a life skill. We live near the beach and if they want to go swimming with friends when they're older at least I know they can be mostly safe in the water.

Have you searching for crash course swimming lessons....maybe not having a whole week between lessons and just having a good go at it for a week or so will help them get over the apprehension.
Lots of leisure centres do them for the half term.

evilgiraffe Sun 16-Jul-17 13:56:12

How about going to a fun pool? Slides, flumes and all that? The more they're exposed to "water is fun", the more likely they are to want to learn, perhaps? If they take a (kind) friend they might see how other kids can swim and enjoy swimming. Peer pressure could work in your favour!

No idea about cycling, but if they're not interested it's less of a big deal. Lack of swimming ability can put you in a life-or-death situation, lack of cycling ability less so...

JungleInTheRumble Sun 16-Jul-17 13:56:37

Is there any treat that they really want? Could you bribe them by saying when you can swim a length you can have X.

Or maybe talk about all the fun stuff you can only do if you know how to swim like watersports, diving, snorkeling etc.

Kids probably think they're too invincible to care about the risk of drowning if they can't swim.

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