It’s your first day for swim lessons at Miller Swim School. You approach the pool deck to check your child in, but their mood suddenly changes. Tears are streaming down their face suddenly your very excited child becomes anxious and is asking to leave.
Surprisingly, this reaction is completely normal and can be conquered with a combination of patience and practice. Before you come to your first class (and even thereafter), here are a few ways you can help your ease your child’s anxiety about the pool and swim lessons:
1. Utilize your time in the tub!
Up to this point, you have most likely spent lots of time with your child in the bath and whether you have realized it or not, the bath is the BEST place to start working on those swimming skills with your children! Here are a few great conditioning skills we encourage parents to try at home before and after lessons:
- Trying on goggles to get your child comfortable with how they feel and how they can see underwater
- Blowing bubbles in the water
- Slowly pouring cups of water over your child’s head
- Laying on their back with their ears in the water
- Put them in the shower!
Of course, we can’t predict how your child will react to the sight of the pool, but basic water exposure goes a long way.
2. Be patient and encouraging.
Don’t get frustrated. It might take some time for those tears to stop. Offer words of encouragement on the way to your lesson and reward your child for achieving milestones in the water.
Gina Miller Kinnison, COO at Miller Swim School, knows from personal experience how long the process can take. When her youngest son, Noah, showed up for his first day of class after a long break from the pool, he quickly went from happy to terrified. It took several weeks for the crying to stop, but it eventually subsided, and he has since learned to love the water and eventually went on to join the Swim Team.
3. Take a step back.
It is hard to watch your child get upset when trying out a new activity. The sight of tears can make parents question their motives for coming to swimming lessons in the first place. Gina breaks down how she rationalized “letting go”:
“As a swim instructor herself, Gina knew what it was going to take to get him comfortable in the water. We knew we had to stay out of sight , and we knew it could take a few weeks.. We never saw his apprehension to getting in the water as fear. Swim lessons were a non negotiable activity for all of our children because of the incredibly important skill it taught; water safety. ”
Don’t give up just yet! Making the jump into swimming as a family can be daunting, but the physical and social benefits last for a lifetime. Check out the Homework Suggestions on our website for more ideas on how to help your child become more comfortable in the pool!