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My 5 year old has suddenly decided he hates swimming lessons and wants to stop...

(25 Posts)
RubberDuck Wed 31-Jan-07 19:40:25

... he can't swim yet. Do I let him stop or do I tell him it's a non-negotiable?

I can't understand it, he's loved swimming right from the word go although progress has been slow.

Last week, he decided (fully changed) that his hand was too hurty to swim (cracked from the cold) and tearfully asked to go home. So a big issue wasn't made about it, I took him home (only for him to get upset on the way back - he'd changed his mind and wanted to swim - by that time it was too late).

This week, he refused again to go (but not due to his hand now as this as healed - just said he didn't like swimming - news to me!), was crying into my shoulder in the changing rooms and had to be coaxed into the water (it wasn't his usual teacher either which was a pain - I did mention it to him that ds1 was upset about going in, so the teacher was sympathetic).

Once he was in, he enjoyed himself, but he's still adamant that he doesn't want to go again so I'm really not sure what's going on.

On the one hand, I kind of view swimming as a really important skill to have. I don't know whether I should just be saying this is a compulsory class.

On the other hand, classes are expensive, it's a good 40 minute drive away and if he's going to refuse every time it's going to get very very stressful.

If we quit now and he changes his mind then it could be a long wait to get back into a class again.


amynnixmum Wed 31-Jan-07 19:43:59

If he enjoyed it once he was in he obviously does still like swimming. Maybe he is tired - do you go after school? My dd is 8 and has gone through many phases of hating dancing and wanting to give up. Every time she ahs said this I have just paid up for 10 weeks and say she has to keep going until the end of that time. By the time I need to pay again or give notice she has decided she wants to keep going.

RubberDuck Wed 31-Jan-07 19:46:50

Yes, it is an after school thing - it could well be tiredness.

Funnily enough, we've got a while to go until we have to pay again - you've given me hope that he might have changed his mind by the time the bill comes through again...

ARGH. It's such a pain to get there, but it's all been worthwhile as he's enjoyed it so much previously. I hope this phase passes quickly!

amidaiwish Wed 31-Jan-07 20:03:50

don't let him give up
my mum let us give up whenever we said we didn't want to do something any more... i wish she had forced/cajoled/encouraged us a bit more (but with 4 kids i guess she didn't want the battle!)

Earlybird Wed 31-Jan-07 20:14:25

DD has swimming once a week at school, and has taken weekly semi private lessons for about 2 years in addition. I think it is an essential life skill, so it's important to me that she learns and becomes good at it.

She started to complain/resist last spring, so we changed to a new teacher for the fall term. That worked for awhile, but the second half of last term it again became a battle to get her to go. It was no fun forcing her, and too expensive to pay for lessons that weren't used.

So, I finally decided we'd take a break for a term. I intend to resume lessons once the days are longer/weather is warmer, and I hope her attitude will be better. In the meantime, we've signed up for drama lessons instead, and she loves them.

Long way of saying - maybe you should take a break?

tigermoth Wed 31-Jan-07 20:28:58

Your son is only 5, I don't think it will do any harm if he takes a break. He's got years of childhood left to learn swimming. Tell him he can stop in ie 3 weeks time, if he still really wants to. But you'll book lessons again in the spring. The dark, cold weather doesn't might be putting him off.

You can still practise swimming together - just go to the local pool as and when to have fun. But him some floats if you need to.

My 7 year old son stopped swimming lessons last July and didn't start again till January, but we spent a lot of time at the local lido in the summer hols and in the indoor pool during autumn. So when he started lessons again he seemed to be a bit better than before.

Look on the mumsnet home page for a link to the 'teach your child to swim' article - it might be helpful.

ssd Wed 31-Jan-07 20:31:05

I let my 5 yr old give up

I know he'll go back to it one day

At 5 they are coping with stsrting school, I think if they don't want to do extra lessons don't force them

And I think forcing back fires, don't put him off swimming for life...............

mitbap Thu 01-Feb-07 11:07:37

When my eldest dd was of the age for the toddler + parent type lesson I did stop going because she screamed the place down - when she was a bit older and I'd managed to get her to relax in the water ahe started proper lessons with smaller sibling (good notivation to get ahead!). Swimming has since been non negotiable for me at least up to ASA Gold. Otherwise they'll never ever be allowed to wander around on their own or with friends on holidays etc. One of us always watches them at the pool at the moment still (and finds we are also watching a load of small unaccompanied kids with no parent anywhere in the vicinity !!!!) but hope in a few years we can assume they are as safe as they'll ever be in the water.
Never forget it takes seconds for a child to drown.

clerkKent Thu 01-Feb-07 13:27:31

Let him take a break from swimming. If you force it, he might really take against it and never learn. If you leave it 6 months, he might be delighted to start again.

However you know your son best. DD at that age would 'hate' something one day and love it the next.

RubberDuck Thu 01-Feb-07 16:04:36

Thanks for these - they've given me a lot to think about (even if there doesn't seem to be a general consensus, lol).

I've checked and I'm paid up until mid-March so I think I'm going to ask that he at least gets to there before any decision is made - maybe with some positive reward system for going without fuss. I'm also going to make extra effort to make sure that there's minimal stress and snappiness on my part on the trip and while changing.

Gut feeling at the moment is that tiredness is definitely a factor - so I don't really want to make any major decisions until after the half term break as I think we all need some downtime.

Debbiethemum Thu 01-Feb-07 16:16:11

My ds went through a similar stage a year ago. BUT as soon as he was in the water he was fine & still happy about it when he gets out.
So we just carried on booking & taking him to lessons - it does seem to take ages for him to get the hang of each stage (or I am simply expecting to much).

What about a treat after swimming as part of the routine - so it's not a specific reward, but yipee it's Tuesday swimming, then a McDonalds or cake at the shop etc.

DS knows that he gets his pocket money after swimming on Saturday morning. But it's not linked to it as if we are away he still gets his pocket money.

jalopy Thu 01-Feb-07 17:45:02

I would encourage him to continue on with his lessons.

DumbledoresGirl Thu 01-Feb-07 17:49:00

It is non-negotiable in my family. My children carry on swimming lessons until they can swin a reasonable length - usually several lengths of the pool. I don't regard learning to swim as optional. It is a life skill.

LIZS Thu 01-Feb-07 17:51:56

ds did the same at that age , wasn't making much progress , so we gave it a rest and he just went with the school. Now at 8 he does enjoy swimming and he has improved a great deal over the past 18 months. You could still take him at weekends but perhaps the discipline and effort is just too much after shcool.

Crazydazy Thu 01-Feb-07 18:05:32

My DS is 5 in May and has been doing swimming lessons for 4 weeks now. He doesn't complain about going but it really does wear him out and when he gets out of the pool then the moaning begins.

It probably is just tiredness and he can't be bothered, school is tiring enough. My DS is zonked on Thursdays after swimming and in bed for 7. He's laid out this minute watching Power Rangers.

RubberDuck Thu 01-Feb-07 18:30:48

Update - I think we have a result

I had a sit down with ds1 and talked about what was upsetting him (apparently getting splashed and putting his head under water), and I talked to him about why I felt it was so important that he had to learn to swim.

We talked about what would help him go happily to swimming and came up with the following agreements :

- Mummy promises not to be stressed and shouty on the journey and in the changing rooms.
- ds1 takes a toy to play with in the car.
- ds1 gets a sticker after swimming for being good.
- ds1 takes Tigger (his favourite soft toy) in the car.
- ds1 always gets to choose the music in the car.
- when ds1 can swim an entire length of the pool (it's the mini learner pool - so that's not as far as it sounds!) without any floats or stopping then I will buy him a snorkel.

What do you think? He's really enthusiastic now (yay!) - whether it will last has to be seen. I think I got off fairly lightly - was prepared to pay him 20p each lesson he attended (but don't tell him that, lol).

handlemecarefully Thu 01-Feb-07 18:33:42

lol - whatever it takes. Sounds fine to me

RubberDuck Thu 01-Feb-07 18:43:19

I just have to steel myself to listen to the LazyTown CD eternally now...

handlemecarefully Thu 01-Feb-07 18:45:06


tigermoth Thu 01-Feb-07 19:11:01

I do think incentives like this can work a treat. My 7 year old doesn't always listen well at swimming class and won't try hard. I think even for a 7 year old, choosing not to put your feet on the pool bottom after 5 strokes means you have to push your self a bit. He loves his Saturday morning class, but tends to mess around in it.

So we now have a deal - If I can see he is messing around, I make the sign of the X box. This is two fingers crossed, followed by the sign of 'no' which is a finger drawn across my throat. DS knows this means no X box for him for the rest of Saturday, unless he starts trying harder. If he is trying harder I give him the thumbs up.

However I only push ds like this because he can nearly swim and he likes swimming. If he really didn't like it I would leave it. Lots of children seem to learn to swim when they are older or at secondary school.

My 12 year old ds can't swim properly. ie he can't go out of his depth or swim more than a width or two. I gave up lessons for him years ago as he just didn't liket them and he had lots of ear and sinus problems that made it painful.

We go on holiday to the beach and he likes fishing - so he has to go near water. He still isn't keen on swimming, but will float on a lilo in the very shallowist of water. I know he can only just about swim so him being near water is a worry. But he is responsible and as he really doens't like water much, he doesn't do anything daredevilish.

I really think the motivation to learn to swim properly has to come from within him.

While he is a weak swimmer he has strict rules - stricter than many children of his age who can swim: on no account can he be on a boat without a life jacket, and he can never go fishing or splash around in the water unless he is with an adult who can swim.

I am counting on the fact that soon he will find a sport that requires him to swim, so he will have the motivation to learn properly.

Madora Thu 01-Feb-07 19:13:15

Well done RubberDuck - a close family member of mine drowned and I didn't know what to post - you solved it all by yourself without forcing the issue. The only tip I can give you is to ensure that you take your child swimming for FUN at weekends with your partner. Once a week IS NOT enough - any new skill requires practise little and often.

Anit333 Wed 29-Jul-15 10:14:42

I think the best thing would be to make swimming enjoyable for him again, without forcing him to do this.

ophiotaurus Wed 29-Jul-15 11:00:10

ZOMBIE from 2007! Why??

Elibean Thu 30-Jul-15 11:58:30

At that age, I kept going for 2-3 lessons (as they can blow with the wind on decisions!) and provided incentives - but if they still hated it by then or at the end of the half term, I'd give it a break. I think they need a certain amount of control over what they do, though obviously not too much.

But swimming is a non-negotiable in the long run for me, as its to do with safety as well as enjoyment and fitness. So I was always clear that whilst breaks were acceptable, not learning at all was not.

5 is very little. Both mine blew hot and cold with swimming till around 6, then one got on with it and the other became a total fish wink

Jinglebells99 Thu 30-Jul-15 12:16:38

Given the original child in this thread must now be about 13, I think the mum probably resolved the issue grin grin

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