Advice please - non swimming DS - how to encourage?(13 Posts)
Just looking for some advice please - my DS (9) is struggling with learning to swim. He has had swimming lessons but hated them and we gave up after 6 months. By that stage he was happy in water using floats but hated putting his face in water. He now goes with school but it seems very slow going. Any tips for helping him putting his face in water? (I'm a non swimmer too so no use to him on this one!)
Can he actually swim? I know plenty of adults who never get their face/head wet! I would just encourage him to do as he's doing and enjoy it and eventually he might get his face wet but that's really not an issue imo (ex life saver / competitive swimmer). Fwiw, my DS would not leave the shallow end until he was 10! I spent hours chatting to him about it - him shivering in the shallow end, me leaning over the edge. One day he went for it and he didn't drown, as he had feared. He's a very competent, happy swimmer now.
He can splash about OK and is happy with arm bands/2 floats.
However, he's classed as a non-swimmer and the group he is in at school is small and getting smaller! Thanks for that - as a non-swimmer myself I suppose I'm worrying over nothing, I'd just like him to be able to join in with his friends who are independently swimming.
can you practice face in the water in the bath? Perhaps with goggles on and glittery things on the bottom to retrieve?
Start with little steps. Closed mouth in the water. then blowing bubbles. then dipping face in. It helps to practice breath holding to - so not breathing while you count to 3 to prove you don't have to breathe all the time. (be careful with this one though!).
Finally could you learn to swim? If he sees you enjoying learning it might help, and you could go to the learner pool together and practice.
Could you organise a few one to one lessons with a reputable teacher who understands his fear and will encourage him? I think this approach my be more successful than a group lesson which can be intimidating for those struggling with water confidence.
Maybe if he went with the family regularly for a play swim, no pressure to swim lengths as such, it could help him relax and just enjoy being in the water?
Does he use swimming goggles? DD didn't like her face in the water either - and that is the way they start teaching them now - but the goggles really helped. Blowing an item across the top of the water helps with the breathing too.
Thanks for the advice - he does use goggles and last year we did quite a few of the exercises but I suppose the key is keeping them up.
Great advice Skipped, I might draw up a wee plan of those steps and practice them. Think it is too late for me to learn though - I'm happy in water but panic when my feet leave the bottom
I think 1:1 lessons and being encouraged to put your head under in different (gentle) ways are good ideas but by 9 if there is still a fear then it should be treated differently. We were lucky to have our own pool and being away from classes and school were what swung it for my DS, eventually. I think if you can find a quiet time for him to visit a pool with another confident adult then that is a good idea. It's a balance between taking the pressure away and enforcing the necessity to be able to swim imo. Quite tricky!
Thanks for all the helpful hints and advice - will give the hints and steps a go over the next month or so and see if it makes any difference.
Maybe if he went with the family regularly for a play swim,
this helped our son a great deal, maybe worth a try
We had this with DS1 - he did all the school swimming and got his 5m badge at the age of 10 but could not put his face in the water. He was very confident in the water though which was really scary when he couldn't swim - at the beach he went in water up to his chest!
We asked about group lessons at the local pool but as a 'non swimmer' he would have been in the class with 4 year olds which we didn't think would be helpful. We ended up getting private lessons for him (£17 per week!) and it took a good few months until he finally just decided to hold his nose and jump in. Now he goes underwater regularly although he does wear goggles.
I recommend private lessons if you can as the teacher will be quite used to this - it is really common. I think it was worth it, as she was teaching him different strokes and his stamina improved even though he didn't get his face in for ages. Once he did he rapidly caught up. Luckily both his brothers are able to put their faces in quite happily.
Thanks KirstyJC - I've had a look at private lessons and there is a private pool nearby although he's really not keen. Think it would be worth paying a bit more just to get the extra help.
Both my children refused to put their faces anywhere near the water before they could dog paddle a bit. We then practised (with goggles) in the bath and baby pool. Having said which, I refused to stop swimming lessons despite the fact they hated them. The only way 'out' was to learn.
I guess you have to decide how important you think it is that he learns. If very important, then whether he's keen or not is neither here nor there (although, obviously, finding the best fit for him pool/lesson-wise is sensible). If you are not that bothered then leave it. I would say though that mine only becaume keen on swimming once they were confident swimmers - now they love it. But it took a couple of years to get there.
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