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  1. #1
    Member CouponBastard's Avatar
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    Swimming Lessons... Help!!!
    ok... My 5 year old daughter started swimming lessons last night.

    History
    She loves to go in the pool with her inflatable muscles, but knows she will sink without them.

    Back to yesterday

    We got to the pool last night and she was 80% excited and 20% nervous. It started out great. Smiles for miles!!!

    About 15 minutes in to the lesson she was asked to paddle to the instructor and sunk directly to the bottom. It took her a few minutes to get re-focused on the lesson and still was not all there for the remainder of the lesson.

    On the ride home we could tell she was upset. Kinda quiet and upset. We talked about the lessons and what she learned, but she never said she didn't want to go back.

    Woke up this morning to my daughter upset.... she said she had a nightmare that she sunk in a lake and couldn't swim out. She said she never wants to go back!!!

    How do I combat this?

    I have a deal with her (made before the not wanting to go) that if she finishes lessons we will go stay at a Disney hotel for the weekend and hang out at the pool.

    As a father it is pretty painful to she her struggle with something. This is the first time something like this has effected her.

    Obviously, she is going to keep going. How else can I get her to overcome this fear.

    Thanks...

  2. #2
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    I know of a person who had their child enrolled at the local school for lessons. The kid screamed, cried, and fussed every time they were there. The parent stayed with it for multiple sessions (10 weeks/each.) Now the kid loves to swim and they are one of the best swimmers in their age group. Every kid is different.

    Our girl started out hating swimming lessons. She was like yours and was fine if she had some kind of assistance, but the minute someone let her go she wanted to go home. Eventually it went away. Now she loves swimming lessons and looks forward to going every weekend.

    Since it is something that can save your child's life, I suggest keeping with it. It is our job as parents to keep our kids safe. Sometimes that means we don't make them the happiest. But, we are parents first, friends second. I wish you the best.

    -sfcom


  3. #3
    Affiliate Network Rep Kim Salvino's Avatar
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    I'll share a bit of a personal story with you before giving my advice, if that's alright.

    When I was in fifth grade, the entire grade went to the local community college for swimming lessons. There were several groups one could qualify for, among them were rock, guppy, dolphin, etc. I was the rock. After six weeks of lessons, I finally qualified for polliwog status, which is not that far above rock. I was happy to at least have made some progress.

    Anyhow, back to your advice:

    Can you attend the lessons with her? Can you get in the pool with her while the lessons are going on? Perhaps knowing that Daddy isn't far away will boost her confidence. Also, encouraging her to attend by telling her the benefits of knowing how to swim: she can play with her friends in the pool, she can pick out new bathing suits, Disneyland hotels, etc. Don't forget to also mention that the pool she is training in is very safe and when you take her there next, point out the proof of safety - the instructor, that Daddy is not far, life preservers, etc. Also, can she use a kickboard? That may give her a bit of confidence for the next time, but let her know it is temporary and that when she learns to swim, she won't even need it anymore!

    Good luck. I hope it all works out for you. You are a great parent for wanting her to be happy and safe!
    Kim Salvino, Client Services Director, Performance Horizon Group
    Reach me at kim.salvino(at)performancehorizon.com or on (443) 617-4036

  4. #4
    Member CouponBastard's Avatar
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    But, we are parents first, friends second. I wish you the best.
    Thanks sfcom!

    Can you attend the lessons with her? Can you get in the pool with her while the lessons are going on?
    I was sitting just a few away from her. I could get in the pool with her, but the instructor does a great job and I would like for her to build trust with her.

    Also, can she use a kickboard?
    They do and did use one. I think the instructor was trying to gage how well they do on their own.

    Thanks for sharing!!!

  5. #5
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Awwww poor little girl. :-(

    The best thing for her would be to keep the lessons going but you also have to deal with her very real fear.

    Remind her that the teacher won't let anything happen to her, that you are right there if she needs you (Get in the water next to her while not interfering with the teacher or lesson) and tell her you KNOW that she can do this. Tell her stories about other children who were afraid but got back in the water anyway. Funny stories help them feel less scared. Also remind her about Disney world and the pool there. Bribes work wonders LOL

    I wouldn't poo poo the dream or her very real fear. Let her know you understand that sinking in water IS scary and is scary for a lot of children but once she learns to stay afloat on her own and swim, which she will, she'll have mastered the power water has over her.

    I would use logic when talking with her. Even though she is only 5, she'll understand that if she stays with the lessons where she is absolutely SAFE, then she'll ALWAYS, from then on, be safe around water and never have those fears of sinking again. And know that as a parent, you are doing what's best for her by insisting she continue with the classes.

    Definitely stay close by and let the teacher know about her nightmare and fears. The teacher should know how to help combat her fears and help her feel safer until she can learn enough to trust herself in the water. Keep arm floaties on her until she gets more confident about taking classes without them. At least that will make it easier for her to get back in the water without undue trauma.

    SFcom is on target with advising to stick with it and let her know that you are going to continue taking her to swimming lessons because it's important that she learn to be safe in water.

    Good luck. PLease let us know what happens or I'll be worried about this for days. LOL
    Peace,

    Rexanne

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  6. #6
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Ouch, that's tough.

    My kids (5 and 2) are always in the pool (or the hot tub), so they've not afraid of it at all.

    I think regular use of life jackets can really make it harder to learn how to swim. Kids gets used to them and are afraid of the water without them (which is tough because you want them to be afraid of it if they can't swim!) and they freak out because they float far lower in the water without it.

    Last June, when Gabriel was 4, we had swim lessons here at the house. (Two instructors from the Y came out and taught the classes for him and 5 friends in 8 sessions over the course of two weeks.) At the time, Gabriel was very confident with his life jacket on and he would even jump off the diving board, but he wouldn't even try to swim without it. At the end of the first lesson, they asked if anyone wanted to jump off the diving board. They intended for one instructor would get below the diving board and catch the kids. Gabriel said "me!" and ran for the diving board. Before they were in place, he jumped off, went under, came up, and swam to the side. He learned a lot in the rest of the lessons, but has really improved since then, just from spending a lot of time swimming. Now, he can even swim down to the bottom of the deep end (9 feet) and retrieve dive toys. He's a little fish. This summer, I'm going to teach him to snorkel and this fall we hope to take him to the Caribbean or Hawaii and snorkel in some nice reefs.

    Our daughter (2) was great with her life jacket last year, but she sinks like a rock without it. Since the pool is still a bit cold, we've been "swimming" in the hot tub since fall. It's an oversized, oval-shaped hot tub built in to our pool, so there's plenty of room. For the last several months, I've quit putting her life jacket on and just stayed right with her. We tried to teach her to kick and paddle, but she just didn't want to. At first, she wanted to hold my hand and jump from the seat to the deeper part of the hot tub. So that's what we did. Then, she progressed to jumping off the seat/ledge to the ledge on the other side (without anyone holding her hand). She'll go under when she does that, but drifts to the other side where she can touch and pulls (or pushes) herself up. Now, she jumps straight in (without the momentum to go across) and actually paddles and kicks across. She's getting there. We plan on putting her in lessons this summer.

    Once your daughter knows how to swim and has confidence in her swimming abilities, that should do wonders at getting rid of her fears. Keep encouraging her. If you have to pull her out of this class, find somewhere else. It's really important that they learn to swim. We had a friend whose 4-year old daughter drowned in their pool a little over a year ago (which was one of the reasons we did swim lessons).
    Michael Coley
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  7. #7
    Member CouponBastard's Avatar
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    Thanks Rexanne!!!

    Thanks Michael!!!

    Great advice.... I will be sure to let everyone know how its going. Her next class is Thursday.

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador bettylou's Avatar
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    My kids (7 and 4) are terrified of my brother's "big" pool, so we bought one of those blue blowup types for our yard. They love it and aren't afraid. Maybe she could start small and work here way up. Sinking to the bottom is scary so be sure that she knows not to panic. Actually I am a little surprised that the instructor had her do that for the first lesson.

    Personal Note: I don't know how to swim. I wish that I would have be able to learn how to swim. It looks like so much fun and it must feel very free to be able to float around like that. I'm sure she will love it when she feels confident.

  9. #9
    Prince of Content Vinny O'Hare's Avatar
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    It couldn't hurt to call the instructor now and get some ideas to prep her for next week. Odds are he has seen this before.

    What about using a disney character to your advantage. Tell her Nemo learned how to swim by taking classes Maybe she will relate to that
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  10. #10
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nyfalcon
    It couldn't hurt to call the instructor now and get some ideas to prep her for next week. Odds are he has seen this before.

    What about using a disney character to your advantage. Tell her Nemo learned how to swim by taking classes Maybe she will relate to that
    Perfect :-)

    Vinny you should have had kids.
    Peace,

    Rexanne

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  11. #11
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    Tell her to be sure and look out for this

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  12. #12
    Member CouponBastard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nyfalcon
    What about using a disney character to your advantage. Tell her Nemo learned how to swim by taking classes Maybe she will relate to that
    What an awesome idea... I'm going to try it tomorrow!!!

    I'll let you know how it goes...Wish me luck.

  13. #13
    Member CouponBastard's Avatar
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    ok... the Nemo swimming lesson thing worked well! She was excited that daddy discovered that Nemo took swimming lessons and went through the same thing she did. Which led into "where did Aerial take lessons?" "why did Aerial need lessons? she has a giant fin" etc.. etc...

    So... there is a little more excitement than there was yesterday. We go back today for lesson number 2. Keep your fingers crossed!!!

    I'll keep you posted...

    Thanks!

  14. #14
    Ride It Like You Stole It CowgirlUp's Avatar
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    Rexanne, Mike and Vinnie really hit the nail on the head! All great ideas!

    I love that she asked about Arial's fin! What a smart little girl you have =] I never took my daughter for lessons, so I'm not much help.=[ She learned to doggie paddle from me and my dad and as her confidence grew she learned to "swim" from her friends at the pool.

    Sounds like you're a fantastically involved father and it sounds like you're making it more tolerable for her....cheers!
    Be the change you want to see in the world ~ Gandhi

  15. #15
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    Swimming is fun! Let her talk about her anxieties and be reassuring. Let her know that Mom and Dad love to swim but it takes a little time to get the hang of it. Let her know that you'll help her figure it out.

    I took to the water like a fish when I was a kid but I had a lot of anxiety about ducking my head under the water. I got over it when I saw the other kids doing it and realized that it was safe and I'd be okay. I got a lot of support from my very patient swimming instructors. Do not allow anyone to force her to do anything in the water until she's ready.

    Bribing also works. When I finally ducked my head underwater the swimming instructors gave me an achievement certificate (I was promoted from tadpole to sunfish or something). I was very proud of myself!

    She'll be fine. She just needs time, gentle encouragement and support to sort it all out.

  16. #16
    Member CouponBastard's Avatar
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    I love that she asked about Arial's fin! What a smart little girl you have =]
    hahaha... Thanks! Sometime shes a little to smart for her own good.

    She'll be fine. She just needs time, gentle encouragement and support to sort it all out.
    Thanks for the support!

  17. #17
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CouponBastard
    ok... the Nemo swimming lesson thing worked well! She was excited that daddy discovered that Nemo took swimming lessons and went through the same thing she did. Which led into "where did Aerial take lessons?" "why did Aerial need lessons? she has a giant fin" etc.. etc...

    So... there is a little more excitement than there was yesterday. We go back today for lesson number 2. Keep your fingers crossed!!!

    I'll keep you posted...

    Thanks!


    Thanks for the update! Keep them coming.
    Peace,

    Rexanne

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  18. #18
    Member CouponBastard's Avatar
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    ok... lesson number 2 completed!!!

    she was excited to go....

    the ride there
    non stop talk about what she learned the other day and excitement to get back in the pool

    at the pool
    she was ready to go... got right in!!! shes starting to feel more comfortable in the water without the floaties.

    first thing the instructor has them do is put their heads under the water. (something she still is very hesitant about) so the teacher took her out to the middle, counted to 3 and put her under... I was thinking "oh crap! here we go again" but to my surprise she came back up with a smile on her face!!! I couldn't believe it... that was an awesome feeling!!!

    So, lesson 3 is Saturday and up to this point she hasn't said she doesn't want to go back... I think she is past the initial fear and just has to try and relax a bit... she still has trouble practicing what she learned (scoops, straight legs) and reverts back to a panic swim when she is on her own.

    I have a good feeling that she will be totally comfortable by the end of lessons and swimming like a fish (Nemo) ***fingers crossed***

    I'll be sure to let you know how the next one works out...

    Thanks...
    Jason@CouponBastard

  19. #19
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Ahhhhhhhhh - the joys and successes of parenting and childhood.

    SO cool that she was excited to go back to lessons and that she's not scared anymore. That is a big thing for her and I think she deserves a reward for getting back into the pool. For sure let her know how proud you are of her for sticking with it and overcoming her fear. The lesson that she can overcome fear and conquer will stay with her for live.

    HUGS to her from all of us and let her know we're proud of her!
    Peace,

    Rexanne

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  20. #20
    Ride It Like You Stole It CowgirlUp's Avatar
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    That's great! So glad she enjoyed the lesson. I bet you sure are proud =]
    Be the change you want to see in the world ~ Gandhi

  21. #21
    Member CouponBastard's Avatar
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    Thanks guys... I'm pretty proud!!!

    I'll be sure to keep everyone updated and let you know if there is another crisis...

    Thanks again...

  22. #22
    Affiliate Network Rep Kim Salvino's Avatar
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    I think this calls for a new swimsuit!

    Hooray to both of you for conquering her fear!
    Kim Salvino, Client Services Director, Performance Horizon Group
    Reach me at kim.salvino(at)performancehorizon.com or on (443) 617-4036

  23. #23
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    So how did the rest of the lessons go?

    Grace has really been picking it up here.
    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    Our daughter (2) was great with her life jacket last year, but she sinks like a rock without it. Since the pool is still a bit cold, we've been "swimming" in the hot tub since fall. It's an oversized, oval-shaped hot tub built in to our pool, so there's plenty of room. For the last several months, I've quit putting her life jacket on and just stayed right with her. We tried to teach her to kick and paddle, but she just didn't want to. At first, she wanted to hold my hand and jump from the seat to the deeper part of the hot tub. So that's what we did. Then, she progressed to jumping off the seat/ledge to the ledge on the other side (without anyone holding her hand). She'll go under when she does that, but drifts to the other side where she can touch and pulls (or pushes) herself up. Now, she jumps straight in (without the momentum to go across) and actually paddles and kicks across. She's getting there. We plan on putting her in lessons this summer.
    Grace finally took the big step yesterday and today, and is actually swimming now. Yesterday, she swam about 5-10 feet in the "big pool", and today she said she wanted to jump off the diving board (like her brother). She probably jumped off about 20 times. (And boy is she sleeping good now!) The first several times, with Kara catching her in the water. Then, letting her come up on her own. And eventually one where she jumped off, came up, and swam to the side all on her own. Quite an accomplishment for a 2 year old!

    For any of my Facebook friends, I posted a video of her jumping off the diving board and swimming on Facebook. (I'm not sure if this link will work for non-members of Facebook, but here's the video: facebook.com/video/video.php?v=16123828029)
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  24. #24
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    I'm not sure if this link will work for non-members of Facebook, but here's the video: facebook.com/video/video.php?v=16123828029)
    Awwwwwww she's having a blast! I'd say pretty good YES! for a 2 year-old! Go Gracie!
    Peace,

    Rexanne

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