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Please help! It's crunch time - do I make dd (7) go to her swimming lesson (which means tears and tantrums) or let her choose?-

(33 Posts)
merrygoround Sun 20-Sep-09 21:03:34

DD is 7.5. Frankly she is driving me to despair with some of her behaviour, but one battle that I've had enough of is the weekly swimming lesson. She's been going since she was about 4 or 5 yrs old, and has had a very good but quite strict teacher for about 18 months. The class has other girls her age who she seems to like, and when she is in the lesson she seems to love it. She is average within the group. The teacher has always been pleased with her because she tries hard.

But she has developed a resistance to going to the lesson that is wearing me out. The night before the lesson day she starts by telling me how she's not going. Then in the morning she'll create a drama about it, and by the time for the lesson she is frequently crying. She did this last week, and I offered the choice of staying or going - and she stayed, but was very weepy until she actually got in the pool. Then she was grinning and larking around. The same battle of wits has started again tonight, with her telling me that I can't make her go, and I just want to throw in the towel.

My gut feeling is that she is that she finds swimming hard work and because it doesn't come easy she wants to give up.

I've paid for the whole term, but it's not really about the money. It's just that I don't know whether I should let her choose and therefore lose the opportunity to develop her swimming - or should I keep putting on the pressure? To be honest I do find her behaviour makes me feel angry and that she is somehow letting me down - which is why I'm posting. I need some objective advice, PLEASE! My dp thinks I should let her choose simply because the reality is that I can't force her anyway, and I'm beginning to think that might be the only sane approach.

Sorry this is long. It follows the battles to keep her going to ballet and piano (both of which have bitten the dust) I feel quite upset but am not sure why it is affecting me like this.

CMOTdibbler Sun 20-Sep-09 21:10:25

I'm with your DP on this one - if she doesn't want to go, and isn't enjoying it, then there's no point.

But equally, I wouldn't let her take up anything else this term in it's place, and if she wants to start anything new I'd make a point of telling her that you have to pay a term in advance, so expect her to go for the term

AMumInScotland Sun 20-Sep-09 21:10:58

I would have a proper talk with her, at some point when she is not wound up about it, and ask if she really wants to give it up. Then, if she wants, I'd let her quit - I just don't think you win anything by having a battle of wills on this kind of issue. Though I might make her carry on for the lessons which have been paid for, since she has to learn that things cost money.

Why should she have swimming lessons if she doesn't enjoy them? (Assuming she can swim to some level, for safety)

Sallyallyally Sun 20-Sep-09 21:11:39

My DD is now 9 and at about the same age got fed up with a lot of her interests..and tbh that was fine. she is old enough to know what she does and doesn't like, and as long as she wasn't sitting all day in front of the telly/computer, enjoying school, making friends and getting a bit of fresh air there is really no problem. she has now developed other interests and trying them out. Thats the joy of being a child..the chance to experiment...and ballet/swimming/piano are not for everyone and probably won't effect future world peace or global warming. Ask her for suggestions as to what she might enjoy..or maybe she feels she is already a bit too busy. Moodiness is very common..we don't let either child get away with bad manners but bear in mind she will be on the very fringes of 'growing up' moodiness and girls of this age sometimes seem almost hormonal. Pick your battles...good luck!

lisbey Sun 20-Sep-09 21:11:56

Ballet & piano I would drop as soon as she said she didn't want to go, but swimming I'm not so sure. An important life skill IMO.

How well does she swim? Will she have swimming lessons at school? Could you do swimming as a family on a regular basis and keep up her swimming that way?

Sallyallyally Sun 20-Sep-09 21:12:37

P.S..agree with the money thing...any new interests are not heavily invested in!

merrygoround Sun 20-Sep-09 21:13:51

Thanks for posts - it's just that dd does seem to enjoy the lesson once she gets there. I wish I could get to the bottom of it.

MoreCrackThanHarlem Sun 20-Sep-09 21:15:08

I understand how hard it is when you can see what is best for your dc but you can't get them to see it, iykwim.
If dd says she doesn't want to go swimming I usually say, 'er, ok, I'll call them and cancel your lessons'. This makes her want to go, as she doesn't want to quit altogether, rather can't be bothered that particular evening.

However if your dd is consistently saying that she doesn't want to swim, every time she has a lesson, I would let her quit. It seems a shame, especially if she enjoys the lesson when she is there, and I really understand your disapointment and frustration. I would make her go the rest of the term since you have paid, and then give her the choice before you commit to the next term of lessons.

Lilyloo Sun 20-Sep-09 21:16:16

I had this with ds , he stopped last year after the current sessions i had paid for ended and he could swim with no aids.
Can she swim yet ?

AMumInScotland Sun 20-Sep-09 21:16:21

Have a calm discussion then - she might tell you there's something specific about it which is making her unhappy - like it clashes with a tv show, or she doesn't like the changing rooms, or lord knows whatever else girls that age take an odd dislike to...

Mumup Sun 20-Sep-09 21:17:05

Hmm. By 7.5, if she's been in swimming classes since 4, then she must swim fairly confidently by now. By which I mean, she must have 'swimming as an essential and fun life skill' down. Maybe you could take her once a week to just play in the pool rather than doing a swimming class?

To what end do you hope she'll develop her swimming?

But I do see your wider point about ballet and piano, and activities being abandoned. Though most kids give up ballet and piano! And I guess part of the point of these classes is to let them try out different activities, and hopefully find one they really love.

What's really getting to you about this, is it a lack of stick-to-it-ness?

Hulababy Sun 20-Sep-09 21:17:33

With my DD we have a rule that if she choses to do an activity, she continues for all paid up sessions.

However, after that she can chose if she does them or not. I am very much of the opinion that extra curricular activities should be fun and enjoyable, and be their choice, their interests.

DD went through a stage fro about a year or so of not wanting to do swimming, so she stopped. She went back last Easter at her request, and now loves it and has made really quite fast progress int he term she has done. She has just signed up for another term.

I would never pressurise a child to do an acticity they no longer enjoy. They won;t learn properly anyway.

lisbey Sun 20-Sep-09 21:17:37

What woudl she be doing if she wasn't at swimming lessons? My DS1 doesn't want to do anything that involves leaving his beloved computer (even though he knows I won't let him use it all day) but always has a great time once he gets there (whatever it is)

BiscuitStuffer Sun 20-Sep-09 21:21:19

I'm guessing it's something about not wanting anyone else to see her changing? Does she know about periods and have a fear about them starting when she's there?

I was in a dreadful state about my body and needing privacy etc at her age.

My friend has discovered that it's only slightly more expensive to have private swimming lessons and her daughter has come on leaps and bounds with it rather than doing them at school - she was always average and not that great at it really.

Plonker Sun 20-Sep-09 21:21:38

Can she swim?

If she can swim then I'm with your dp - she shouldn't be made to go if she doesn't want to.

If she can't swim then I'm with you. Swimming is a life skill that every child needs. It's not like packing in ballet or Rainbows ...

You say she enjoys it whilst she's there, so it's not like you're subjecting her to a trauma each week!

GwarchodwrPlant Sun 20-Sep-09 21:25:31

I would have a chat with her, find out if something else is bothering her then explain that if she doesn't want to carry on with the lessons then that is fine but because you have paid until the end of term then she will have to go to these ones. At the end of the day it should be her choice.

Quattrocento Sun 20-Sep-09 21:28:11

I don't know if this helps any but my DD was just the same. Grumps and tantrums every single sodding saturday for around 2 years, between 6 and 8.

I didn't give up because I think swimming is a lifeskill and it's important to learn how to do the strokes properly and to learn them well. It was frustrating, begging and bribing and cajoling her through it.

Then she got quite good, got through all her badges, got her bronze, silver and gold, and joined a club, got her diving badges, started swimming competitively, lots of galas and stuff and really loved it.

When she got to the point that the coach wanted her to start early morning training sessions (by this point she was swimming five times a week already) she sat me down and explained that her heart wasn't really in swimming, and she'd like to give up now. Which was absolutely fine of course.

But she added that she was really grateful I'd got her through the early years, and she'd got an awful lot out of it.

Does that help?

merrygoround Sun 20-Sep-09 21:30:43

Oh, all these posts are very helpful, and some rather astute. Mumup, I think you have identified what is behind my frustration - it is a fear that she lacks the "sticking-to-it-ness" factor.

Other posts make me think that perhaps it would not be the end of the world if she gave up - but as A mum in Scotland says, I think it would help if I knew what was really behind her unwillingness.

If I am to be truthful (and believe me, I know what this says about me), I suppose I feel that I've failed when the other mothers are succeeding - their children will go on to be great swimnmers, very musical, able to dance (or whatever) and mine will have given up.

But that's why I posted I suppose - because I wanted to understand my own reactions better, even if I can't understand hers. Having been brought up to believe in "achieving" - and to a large extent, failing in those expectations of my family - I'd have thought I knew better by now than to try and push my dd where she is not keen to go.

lavenderkate Sun 20-Sep-09 21:32:08

This is normal, evryone I know went through this with their girls!

Bottom line is, she needs to be a good enough swimmer as a life skill so she should do as she is told and go, regardless.

thell Sun 20-Sep-09 21:33:41

Perhaps agree that she can give up once she has reached a certain level of competence, eg 25m / 50m ?

Quattrocento Sun 20-Sep-09 21:36:02

Yes that's a good idea - agree a target by which time she should give up.

Think 25m is a bit feeble in terms of actual ability to swim if she ever fell into a river or anything. Why not 1 mile?

lavenderkate Sun 20-Sep-09 21:40:30

Bronze medal. Most get it about 9yrs. If they fall in anywhere they need to be abe to swim back wearing a few clothes, hence the pyjamas. Also they actually quite enjoy swimming in their pyjamas.
Swimming lessons a lot more fun by that stage anyway.

Do persevere. ( I always bribed mine with a bag of crisps of their choice from the machine in the foyer)wink

Mumup Sun 20-Sep-09 21:51:18

I reckon lots of these things just need to be offered again and again - as Hulababy said about her own DD, you may find she's keen again in another couple terms.

I still haven't forgiven my mother for letting me give up piano! But I know when my kids finally tell me they've had enough, I won't be able to make them learn.

I have to say that the vast majority of my friends in adult have not been very musical, and can't dance. But they all have skills... aquired somehow or other.

merrygoround Sun 20-Sep-09 21:53:52

Now I'm getting confused again!

This is where I've got to, taking into account all the posts I've read so far:

1. Swimming is a lifeskill so I want her to learn to a certain level of competence. So that's question one, has she reached that level of competence? Probably not, but as someone else suggested, maybe if we go swimming together she'll keep her skills, combined with the fact she has a weekly lesson at school. And maybe she'll want to have lessons again if I don't make a big deal of it.

2. We've paid for the term, but to be fair, I didn't exactly ask her when I paid back in June if she would want to go for 12 lessons, at 6.15pm on a Monday, in the autumn and winter. So maybe that's my fault.

3. The teacher himself once told me that in his country, Poland, swimming lessons are 45 minutes and not 30, to make sure there is always time for play. In dd's lessons it is rare to get play time, so it must feel quite exhausting.

4. Another option I could explore is if she would like to drop down a level to the earlier class, which two of her other friends are in - not sure if there's space, but it could make all the difference. It's a bit earlier too which would ease the tiredness.

5. I always swim while she has her lesson, so I could see if it would make her feel more keen if she knows she can have a little play with me straight after her lesson for 10 minutes.

6. Although she's given up ballet and piano, it's not true that she never sticks at anything. She is still keen on ice skating, which she's not that good at, and she kept on trying with singing until she finally got in the choir at school. So maybe I should keep a bit more perspective, and should be willing to let her tell me other ideas for things to try.

7. Mumsnet is as helpful now as it was 7.5 years ago when I first found it!!!

purpleduck Sun 20-Sep-09 22:01:14

My dd was the same with swimming. I really didn't want her to give up, as I think its a lifeskill as well, and once she leaves something she never returns to it.
I told her she had to get to a certain level, and in the meantime she gets a cookie after each lesson.
However, something wonderful has happened, and she now loves it (hooray). I think it was just a confidence issue.
When she can swim to a good level, she can stop if she likes.

In hindsight, I would have waited until she was about 6 to start - seems to me that this is when most kids grasp it anyways.

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