Learning to swim is a Life Skill and should be a non-negotiable in every household. Learning to swim will give your child the ability to expose themselves to many life experiences…ocean swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, fishing, boating, swim team, healthy exercise, etc. More importantly, it arms them with the ability to keep themselves water safe and to enable them to potentially save a life.
So, what happens if your little one is not keen on the idea of learning to swim?
Resistance to swim lessons, or any new activity (new school, new sports team, new friends, etc.) is completely normal for young children. Having four little ones ourselves, we understand that trying to get your little one to embrace swim lessons can be overwhelming. Here are 5 tips that we have used with our children to encourage them through their learning to swim journey.
5 Encouraging Tips
1. Use Encouraging Words
It might seem obvious, but think about whether you use encouraging words to talk to your child about swimming. Many times, all a child wants is support from their parents. Explain to them, in an age-appropriate way, why learning to swim is important and how proud you are of them for trying something new. Tell them you will be there for them every step of the way, and you truly believe they will be an awesome swimmer!
2. Make it Fun
Tell them about all the fun learning they will experience and the new friends that they will make in their swim class. If your little ones’ love splashing in the bathtub, let them know that they will be doing some fun splashing in their swim class. Explaining to them the fun they will be having can go a long way in getting little ones excited about learning. Friends always make it easier as well. If your child has a sibling, cousin, friend that is also interested in learning to swim we can help get them in the same class. Learning with friends is FUN!
3. Reinforce what they are learning in their swim class
When you come to class with your child, pay special attention to the skills they are learning and the terms our instructors are using to describe the skill. You will be able to practice many of these skills with them in the bathtub or at the neighborhood pool to reinforce the learning they are being exposed to in class. Mouth bubbles, nose bubbles, back floating, front floating are easy to practice in the bathtub. This “learning reinforcement” can help them feel more at ease in class. It also helps to strengthen the skills that they’re learning in their lessons.
4. Take a Breath
Dealing with, and calming, a resistant or crying little one before swim class can be a stressful experience for any parent. Believe us when we say this, everyone including the swim school owners “have been there” with their children. Our twin 4-year-olds have their good days and bad days at swim lessons. There are times they are totally into it and there are times they are upset/crying about having to go to swim class. These are normal reactions. Using the tips above have helped us lessen the inevitable meltdown but sometimes, it’s not enough. In this case, don’t force the child to do anything they are uncomfortable with until they have calmed down and are prepared to learn. As parents we understand these situations and will work with you on a makeup or two if needed.
5. Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, Dulcie and I have both been there with our little ones. Know that you are surrounded by parents who have all been there at some point and can definitely empathize.
Contact us if you would like to learn more about our swim program!
Robert and his wife Dulcie own, operate, and teach at SafeSplash locations in the San Antonio, TX area.