It can be difficult to hand your child over for lessons (of any kind!). As a swim instructor for many years, I can offer these few tips to help with struggles you may encounter as a parent.
- Strike up a quick, but happy conversation with your child’s instructor with your child in hand. The exchange lets your child know you are comfortable with the instructor (even if you only know him/her professionally). The “vote of confidence” is enormously helpful to both the instructor and your child.
- Take your child’s lesson time as a break for yourself. Read a book, catch up on the phone with friends and family, or go for a walk. Hovering over your child’s lesson space is often distracting, especially for youngsters. You do not need to disappear for every single minute of all classes- by all means, stay to enjoy the progress your child is making- but, allowing your child to have some space will help strengthen the bond between swimmer and instructor. You’ll enjoy the newfound independence your child demonstrates as a result!
- Understand that crying can be a part of the process. Not all children adjust to water as quickly as others. As a result, some kids will need a few minutes each session to get acquainted with their environment. Some may cry for the entire first lesson and then never again. With experienced instructors, your children’s cries are never cries of harm or something you should worry about. With guidance and attention, your instructors will help your child adjust to water and learn to love it.
- For reluctant swimmers, ask post lesson questions you can frame to illicit a positive answer. By asking, “Wasn’t it fun how Coach Joan had you dive for rings?” instead of, “Was practice fun today?” you can lead your child to find the positive aspects of each lesson. This constant positive relation to lesson will help develop your child’s relationship with the water and swimming.