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Toddler fear of swimming - how to overcome?

(6 Posts)
sleepcrisis Thu 18-Apr-13 13:06:06

Hi all

DS is 22 months and loved swimming until he was about 1. we stopped taking him to the pool because he just whinged the whole time and it seemed pointless. I think that was a mistake because now he is terrified of swimming pools. He loves the sea, he loves his bath, no fear of water (or anything else for that matter). He loves watching swimmers from behind a glass door. As soon as we go through he kicks off and gets himself totally hysterical.

Having signed up for a term of lessons (and being a keen swimmer myself) I want to help him over come his fear. Today, I sat with him on the side and kicked my legs and gave him a toy, but he still wouldn't stop crying, so I dried him off and told him that he didn't have to go in but would he sit with me on the bench until all of the other children had finished, so he could see that it was fun. He cried (hysterically) intermittantly for the next 20 mins. He stopped when the teacher got out the bubbles, and again when they did the dunking bit. But he was desperately trying to get out of there. I felt really cruel making him stay.

Teacher reckons I should persevere and keep going, but not push him to go in until he's ready. Is this wise or will it just traumatise him further? I think swimming is such an important life skill and I really want him to enjoy it as much as me and his dad do.

wigglesrock Thu 18-Apr-13 14:28:30

I have just taken my 26 month old to the swimmers this morning for the first time in a year. She was exactly the same loves the bath, the sea, collecting water from the shore but not the swimming pool.

I just took her in myself, sat in the shallow bit and had a look about. She clung to me like her life depended on it, but no crying or hysterical sobbing. We had a bit of a walk around the pool (it's very shallow), she released her tight grip slightly, had a bit of a splash. I took her out after 15 mins, we went home and she has bored everyone silly about her "swimming" smile

Can you ditch the class? Make it something just the 2 of you do?

Learning to swim is an important skill but maybe not necessary at 22 months.

NobbyD Thu 18-Apr-13 14:47:40

I had a similar problem with my ds. Took him swimming from age 3 months and he loved it up until he was about 2 then he would flip out, cling to me to the point of strangulation and generally hated every second.

I too am good swimmer (competitive when younger) and my mum is a swimming teacher so it was a shock when ds hated it. I stopped going for a while but that seemed to make it worse when we then did go.

Eventually after persevering and just letting him do what he wanted (as in weekly swims me and him where he either clung to me or stayed where he could stand) he slowly got more confident.

He's now 4 and still not ready to do actual lessons yet but with just going regularly with me he can swim a width with no arm bands. It takes a while but you need to keep at it and let them build confidence up themselves. The more you push it the less they'll want to do it.

Just keep showing your dc that swimming is fun and go bonkers on the praising for little things like getting in themselves, splashing etc.

Supergiggle Sun 21-Apr-13 09:39:17

I had this with one of my twin girls, hated swimming pools and would cry at the thoughts of getting in. Her twin loves it though and was doing lessons every week so I signed her up to an intensive holiday programme for two weeks, for the first week she screamed cried through the whole lesson every day but kept at it, second week, not so many tears, by the end of the week she was calm getting in and now two terms later she has just started to kick and paddle by herself smile. I would definitely keep persevering, it will be so worth it smile

Supergiggle Sun 21-Apr-13 09:41:35

Hit post too soon , she is 3.7

BoundandRebound Sun 21-Apr-13 09:41:53

Stop going

He'll get over it and forget it, just leave it for 6 months
Some things aren't worth pushing especially as he has no fear of water in general

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