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Meltdowns about swimming lessons - should I stop taking her?

(61 Posts)
Magicpaintbrush Wed 22-Mar-17 13:35:36

My DD (8) has been having swimming lessons since she was 2.5 years old and is halfway through Stage 4 - she can swim the length of the pool (25m) without a float but obviously is working on technique in lessons etc. However in the past few months she has been increasingly miserable about going to lessons, to the point she will sometimes have a meltdown in the car on the way there (sometimes to the point I know it's no good taking her and have to head home). I just don't think she enjoys it at all, and recently has been saying it makes her chest hurt, which I put down to the usual out-of-breath type burn that everybody gets sometimes during exercise or physical activity - and also she is a huge drama queen when it comes to illness so I have to take some things with a pinch of salt (every bedtime she will reel off a list of about 4 different things which she thinks is wrong with her etc), although that obviously doesn't mean I don't believe her, I just have to read between the lines. I had wanted to get her through to the end of Stage 5 at least, but now I'm torn. She is really hating it and I don't know whether to make her keep going to lessons or just stop. If it was anything else I would tell her she could stop, but I had always intended her to get to a certain level in swimming purely for safety reasons.

WWYD? I really can't figure out what's best to do. confused

MyMrKnightley Wed 22-Mar-17 14:20:29

How about stopping the lessons and start taking her swimming as a family and possibly with a friend. She will then gain confidence and experience and hopefully enjoyment.

If she can swim a length unaided then she can get herself out of trouble in a pool. If she decides to take up a water sport then maybe sign her up for a life saving course at that point.

IamFriedSpam Wed 22-Mar-17 14:23:44

I think I agree with MyMrKnightley since she's at the level where she can swim to the side if she falls into a pool, perhaps give the lessons a bit of a break and just go swimming for fun at a pool with slides etc. for a while.

fruitpastille Wed 22-Mar-17 14:27:28

Will she go with school next year? That might be enough to get her through stage 5. I'd be reconsidering anyhow if she's been going for 6 years and can only do a length. Mine have also made slow progress so currently we are taking them ourselves to an early weekend session and it is much cheaper and more enjoyable than lessons tbh.

SpringGlade004 Wed 22-Mar-17 14:31:37

I'm in a similar situation, and have a similar opinion to's an important life skill and after all this time seems a shame to quit now. My dc knows what I think of this and knows why I put so much importance on it so knows it's not something I'm going to 'cave' on..not that this stops them trying every week! So I don't have a huge amount of advice other than I don't entertain the 'my shoulder hurts this week' - unless they're actually injured of course! It's short and sweet - we're going, it's important. Then changing the subject often helps. Hope it makes you feel better just knowing you're not the only one that has this..weekly! grin

Magicpaintbrush Wed 22-Mar-17 14:56:32

Thanks for your advice, I think I just keep hoping she will do a U-turn and suddenly start enjoying it but it seems increasingly unlikely. Is 25 metres really that bad after five years of lessons? All the kids in her class are about her age? I find taking her such a chore these days because it turns into a battle (and that's not even taking into account her wailing about washing her hair afterwards). Such fun!!!

Magicpaintbrush Wed 22-Mar-17 14:58:05

I'm not sure if her school do swimming lessons at any point....maybe I should ask. She might enjoy that more with her classmates as a novelty.

It does seem such a shame to stop after all this time, but I feel guilty as it's clearly making her miserable.

Oncemorewithlessfeeling Wed 22-Mar-17 15:20:43

I've just been through similar with my DD (7) - complete meltdowns before lessons to the point that she missed several weeks in a row as I couldn't even get her in the car.

In her case I think It was mainly worries due to the combination of moving up from a class where she had friends to one where she didn't know anyone and being scared about doing a new stroke which she was finding tricky in the bigger pool.

What helped her is that I arranged for her to have a private lesson where the teacher just worked on that stroke - it really improved her confidence and a she went to the next group lesson (not happily but she went!). She has since moved up a level again and we haven't really had any issues since.

Is there anything specific that your daughter is struggling with or is worried about in those lessons? If so would it be feasible to have a one on one lesson to work on those? If not then maybe as PP suggested a break from those classes and just going swimming for fun would help.

MyMrKnightley Wed 22-Mar-17 16:12:42

I could be wrong but I thought all schools had to teach swimming as part of the curriculum.

I'm a massive fan of learning to swim in part because I live a stones throw from the sea. But if your getting this much resistance then aren't you going to put her off.

Say you carry on until stage 5 and then she stops, but has been put off it so much she won't go swimming for the next few years is she really going to be at that stage still? I'm a recon confidence is the key to safety not perfecting a particular stroke. If she fell into a swimming pool could she not panic and get herself to the side? Take her swimming for fun, find a pool with a slide and she'll pick things up herself.

purplecoathanger Wed 22-Mar-17 16:20:10

I'd be looking for something else for her, perhaps regular swimming with you for fun or a swimming club. My three all swim with a swimming club and they love it. I've seen the lessons they do at the local pool and they are nothing like the swimming club sessions.

I personally don't think children can opt out of learning to swim really well, as it's so important.

moonlightmile Wed 22-Mar-17 16:43:58

My DDs are 7 & 5. They have been swimming since they were 3 and we have always had tantrums pretty much every time before swimming. However, their tantrums are mostly because they just can't be bothered: they seem to enjoy it when they're in the pool. I won't let them quit yet because I know they'll have fun once they get started, but if they were upset during the lesson, I wouldn't force them to continue with it.

If I were you, I would probably take her swimming for 'fun', just to improve her confidence and maybe focus more on swimming further instead of getting perfect technique?

Making sure she can swim well enough to save herself in an emergency and building her confidence around water are quite important imo.

Magicpaintbrush Wed 22-Mar-17 19:25:09

I have suggested going swimming for fun recently but she doesn't want to - although she seems to be at an age where she is unenthusiastic about lots of things I suggest (including cinema and bowling to name a few!). My worry is that if she stops lessons she just won't ever get back on track and won't want to bother with swimming in any shape or form. She has said her teacher has been nit picking at her about her technique and not any of the other kids which I don't think is helping, but I don't think it's the main reason for her reluctance. I could speak to her teacher but I can't really see what that would achieve, it won't suddenly make my DD change her mind about anything. We have a swimming lesson tomorrow.... I'm now wondering whether the teaching at our local pool is a bit meh if kids of her age are usually further ahead than this after 5 years of lessons. She does seem to do well with the 5 day intensive courses in the summer hols, but that's just once a year.

What level should an 8 yr old have achieved after 5 years of lessons? Is she behind?? confused

BertrandRussell Wed 22-Mar-17 19:29:22

Do you live by the sea, a river or canal?

If no, then stop taking her.

welshmist Wed 22-Mar-17 19:31:07

After watching my son sob in the changing rooms after 18 months of lessons, the instructor had relocated three times I thought enough is enough. I am not going to make him do this any longer, he learnt to swim on holiday with lots of newly made friends.

purplecoathanger Wed 22-Mar-17 19:40:47

Have a look at swimming clubs. Learning to swim properly is so important.

BertrandRussell Wed 22-Mar-17 19:43:22

"Have a look at swimming clubs. Learning to swim properly is so important."

Why is learning to swim properly important? She can swim a
length. That's fine.

Hulder Wed 22-Mar-17 19:58:26

Why is learning to swim an important lifeskill?

My DM hasn't swum in 75 years and neither I or DH have in about 15.

We live in the middle of the land and the only possible situation I can see myself swimming in, is on a spa day - which I haven't had in years.

We manage quite happily without falling into rivers.

MrsBartlettforthewin Wed 22-Mar-17 20:07:50

If she can swim to save her life I'd not worry to much about further lessons and just take her swimming for fun so she doesn't end up feeling she can't swim.

BertrandRussell Wed 22-Mar-17 20:09:35

Swimming lessons are one of the greatest cons of the age. I can't imagine anything else where you would pay for lessons for 5.5 years, have a miserable child just about able to swim a length and not question the efficacy of the teaching! Add up how much that has cost- and she can only just swim 25 metres!

WeAllHaveWings Wed 22-Mar-17 20:10:02

We never started ds swimming until he was 7. By the time he was 8.5 he had passed all Stanley levels and had his his rookie lifeguard bronze and was swimming 20 lengths in pjs for a warm up.

6 years of group lessons with little progression must be so demotivating, I'm not surprised she isn't engaged anymore. We threw money at ds by giving him a one-to-one lesson and a group lesson every week for 9 months, then just group lessons and he flew through the levels. Short term expensive but long term cheaper. Would really recommend if you can get 1-2-1 at a reasonable price. Teacher is in the pool so much better at teaching techniques and making it much easier

Frankley Wed 22-Mar-17 20:12:36

A friend of mine had a similar problem with her child. She found a different swimming class in a warmer smaller pool. Less children in a class and a different approach to teaching them.
Child loves going to the classes now and is doing well. Any other pools near you that you could try?

BertrandRussell Wed 22-Mar-17 20:23:19

At our pool, assuming you have 30 minute lessons for 40 weeks a year, that's nearly 2 grand.

llangennith Wed 22-Mar-17 20:25:54

Stop the lessons for a while.
As she's been having lessons all these years and can only swim a length it can't be much fun for her. Let her enjoy the pool for a while and then suggest lessons again.

3boys3dogshelp Wed 22-Mar-17 20:29:00

I moved my kids to a different pool and signed them up to two crash courses of lessons where they went every day for a week in the holidays. They came on in leaps and bounds. We went on our summer holiday a couple of weeks after that (so another week of fun swimming every day) and now they can swim. If I was you I would have a break then a fresh start somewhere different when the weather is a bit warmer.

mrswarthog Wed 22-Mar-17 20:33:00

My 7 year DD has been having one group lesson a week for 3 years & has just done her 600m - 25m isn't massive progress tbh. Is she bored?

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