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Dd's fear of putting her face in water

(10 Posts)
haveabreakhaveakitkat Sat 01-Aug-15 14:24:00

Dd is 8 and has been having swimming lessons for 4 months. Her fear of putting her face in the water is holding her back. Her teacher tries every week, and is very patient, but as soon as dd's nose touches the water she brings her head back up. I've tried getting her to do it in the bath but she does the same thing. She's ok with water running down her face in the shower - it's just actually submerging her face that's the problem. She has goggles and holds her nose. Any tips?

MyFriendsCallMeOh Sat 01-Aug-15 14:46:18

I am a swimming teacher and have helped several children through this. It takes time and lots of patience! Ask your dd to cup her hands and hold water in them. Can she bring the water in her hands to her face and blow bubbles in it? Wash her face with the water? Encourage her to blow bubbles whenever her face / nose is in water, whether its running down her face in the shower or in cupped hands. I suspect she may have had water up her nose before, which won't help her reticence to put her face in water, but blowing bubbles will prevent this happening. Try to get her in the bubble habit.

Once she can put her face in cupped hands of water, see if she can do the same in an ice cream tub of water (starting small, can you see where we're going with this?!) Get her to blow bubbles. See if she can just touch the tip of her nose to the water. Can she put just her chin in? With small children, I get them to imagine it's their favourite ice cream.... Go bit by bit. Can she put in her forehead and keep her nose dry? Eventually she will be able to put her face in. Let her hold her nose if she wants to but see if she can manage without.

She will get there. In the pool, let her sit in a very shallow part of the pool, facing the side or corner and put in her chin, then the tip of her nose etc. Reduce the size of the body of water her face is entering as much as possible. Facing a huge pool and putting your face in the water is much more difficult than an ice cream tub or the corner of the shallow end. Lots of congratulations and cheering throughout btw, every time. Make a huge fuss of her doing anything that involves part of her head or face touching the water.

Spend 5 minutes each lesson on this, don't let it be the focus of the lesson, do other swimming too and let her know how well she's doing in the rest of the lesson. If she gets upset or frustrated, change the focus to another skill that she enjoys and is good at, then come back to it. This is 100% a confidence thing, you need to get that confidence sky high and she'll crack this.

Good luck and let us know how you get on.

haveabreakhaveakitkat Sat 01-Aug-15 16:36:54

Myfriends - thanks so much, great advice! I'll keep persevering with her.

GobblersKnob Sat 01-Aug-15 16:42:30

That's great advice and hopefully it works, but despite the best efforts of everyone I never got over it as a fear and now am somewhat phobic after years of parents and swimming instructors trying to make me do it.

I cannot even bear to get shower water on my face and always carry an umbrella so I wont get rained on.

Fairylea Sat 01-Aug-15 16:56:17

I'm another one who at the age of 35 has never got over it either... sorry! I absolutely hate getting my head in the water and will actively avoid anything which means I have to. Not sure if that's helpful of me but I do think some people just don't like it. My dd aged 12 is exactly the same (despite lots of private swimming lessons etc ).

MyFriendsCallMeOh Sat 01-Aug-15 18:32:38

My mum was the same, absolute petrified fear of getting her face wet. However, I do believe that with the right encouragement and techniques, this is something that can be conquered at an early age. My training is with Austswim, which encourages children to start swimming at 6 months and water confidence from birth (having water tipped over their heads in the bath etc). Never met a baby with fear of going under the water. If a fear develops (most of the children I have worked with were fearful of water around 3-4 years old), it's easier to get over it at a young age than later on. Good luck op.

Orangeanddemons Sat 01-Aug-15 18:35:04

I'm with Gobblers on this. I was terrified of it, still am, and hate hate showers for the same reason.

cantmakecarrotcake Sat 01-Aug-15 19:00:38

Myfriendscallmeoh, my dd has always (from 10 weeks when we started lessons) hated putting her face in water - she would hold her breath for ages after a submersion. I very deliberately continued taking her for lessons for 2+ years and weekly just with me for a year or so more (with a term of lessons thrown in) in the hope she'd eventually get the hang of it but she still won't put her face in.

I always hated it until I learned to front crawl in my 20s using the 'total immersion' method which eases you in v gently to putting your face in.

I hated it so agree with others that some people just dislike it. DD is only 4 so I've yet to see how she learns to swim but it's not going to be a quick process!

MyFriendsCallMeOh Sat 01-Aug-15 19:45:48

I agree that some people do dislike it and this is something that can't be taught or encouraged. However, it is possible with most people (apart from those with severe phobias) to get to a stage where it can be tolerated enough for swimming.

Northernlurker Sat 01-Aug-15 21:54:43

Very interesting thread. I won't put my head under water though I swim (old lady breast stroke style) every week. I might try blowing bubbles........

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