Saturday, 19 October 2013

My daughter is scared of swimming? How do I encourage her to learn?

This is a post where I am hoping to get some advice from you.

My little fish WON'T get in a swimming pool!!  Miss H is going to be five next April and she still can't swim.  Considering we live in an area that is almost completely surrounded by water, this is a problem and a real worry for me.

As a baby she absolutely loved the water and had no fear at all.  She would just throw herself in and we really have to keep an eye on her to make sure that her floatation devices were always on she thought she was invincible.

Miss H as a tiny tot - she was a real little fish then
I first took her to swimming lessons just before she turned two and after a few initial tears things were going great.  She had a lovely teacher and as long as I promised we'd have a baby chino after the lesson she was always excited to go.

After about a year she progressed to the next level and that's when things started to go horribly wrong.  I'm not sure if it was because she was the only girl in a class full of boys (that were all a bit older than her) or if it was because she started to do a little bit of swimming un-aided?  But either way - she FREAKED OUT and every class got worse and worse!  The worse part was that she had learned to get out of the pool by herself, so she'd get out just before her turn and run straight to the changing rooms.  I'd have to go and get her out and bring her back, and it would just happen again and again.

Before the fear set in
I was pregnant with Miss L at the time and the bigger I got, the harder it was to lean over the pool side and comfort her.  I had visions of me toppling over and falling into the water like a huge whale!!  Once Miss L was born it all became too difficult and so we pulled her out of her lessons all together.

It's been over a year now and although she loves the water, she can't actually swim and she is absolutely adamant that she is never ever ever going to learn!!!  If her feet can touch the ground in a swimming pool then she is as happy as unicorn on a rainbow, but actual swimming - NO WAY!!

Last weekend I tried to take her into the swimming pool with a life jacket on, just so she could feel what it's like to float and she totally flipped out.  She almost drew blood from my arm her grip was so tight, and I had to take her out immediately.  All I could see in her eyes was genuine fear and I just have no idea where it has come from.

I am desperate for her to learn to swim, not just from an all important safely aspect but also because I don't want her to miss out on all the water fun this summer.

Do I force her to back into lessons or should I wait until she is older??

Do you have a child with a fear?  How do you deal with it?

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  1. I know its expensive but maybe some one on one lessons with a teacher that you think can slowly move her along. My children were a lot like yours. They both were happy to be in the water Loved it in fact but wouldn't leave the step or where they can stand. Hayden at six and a half has just decided he can do it and off he went. Mikala I bribed with icecream for breakfast if she would swim to the middle and back with her floaties on. I know she could do it without them but I'm building confidence one tiny swim at a time.

  2. Hey Rob, Terrey Hills Swim School are fantastic at dealing with kids fear of swimming, and it's run by your fellow South African's. I can't recommend them enough. My kids have been going there for years, love them.

  3. Hey Rob, Terrey Hills Swim School are fantastic at dealing with kids fear of swimming, and it's run by your fellow South African's. I can't recommend them enough. My kids have been going there for years, love them. Mon xx

  4. Poor little chicken. I can share what we experienced with my eldest, if that helps. She was 5 and a half and had been having swimming lessons for a while but had a lot of fear that held her back from trying things in the water and therefore learning to swim. She wasn't quite as phobic as your daughter sounds, but it was still a big problem. She was learning in a very big, very busy, very noisy pool, in a group of 4. The teachers were fine but not awesome. Then we moved and found another swim school, which was a small, private school in a small swimming pool. They ONLY did one on one lessons. She was swimming within weeks. Good luck Robyn, I hope you find a solution soon.

  5. K was like that when she first started to swim - would spend over half the lesson just getting her into the pool. She had lessons one on one with her teacher (who was just delightful) and, before we left to come to Australia, there was an absolute storm going with heavy rain during her lesson (outside pool) - and her teacher went to put her wetsuit on and we told her she didn't have to get in just because K wanted to swim - so she coached from the verandah but, as far as K was concerned, she wasn't missing a lesson !!!
    I hope she gets over the fear - as you say, it isn't only the safety factor - it's how much fun she will miss out on.
    Have the best day !

  6. A tough dilemma - We currently have a boy fearful of doing number 2's on the toilet and there is no convincing him otherwise. Hopefully you find a solution that works for Miss H.

  7. Hey Robyn, the lady who runs the swim centre where my girls swim is fantastic, I have seen her coach a little boy who was too scared to get into the water to now he can swim lengths (he does lessons at same time which is how I've followed his development!). She is firm but very very kind and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend you to give her a call. she will do one on one lessons so she is only dealing with Miss H which might make it a bit easier. will give you her details tomorrow x


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