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What to Do When Your Child Tells You They Don’t Want to Go to Their Swimming Lesson

Children sometimes develop fear of the water. If your child expresses a fear, it is important that you listen to your child make sure they feel understood, even if they can’t tell you why or what they’re afraid of. Your validation of their feelings is important, and it reassures them that they can trust you.

It can be quite the mystery. You can’t get them out of the bathtub. Your child loves to splash away in shallow water. But mention going for a swim, and you’re met with a very different and surprising reaction. Your little bathtub dweller isn’t interested. They may even have fear. Here’s how to handle it.

Sooner is better

Even toddlers should learn how to be safer in and around water. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swimming lessons for all children, as long as they show signs of readiness and are frequently exposed to water.

So, what do you do if your child doesn’t show signs of readiness? What if their response to swimming and pools, or anything more than the bathtub is, “Mommy, I’m afraid.”?

Fear of the unknown is not something that has to be taught to us. We naturally fear things we do not understand. While you see a swimming pool as just a much bigger bathtub, your child might not get that analogy. A pool – or any large body of water – is not something they can fit into their limited worldview. There’s no perspective or comparison. It can be a frightening place.

Permission to be afraid

Take your child’s fear seriously. Listen to them and make sure they feel understood, even if they can’t tell you why or what they’re afraid of. Your validation of their feelings is important. It reassures them that they can trust you.

Often, the best way to help your youngster overcome their fear of the water in a pool or elsewhere is with gentle reassurance. If they’re not ready to get into the water, let them sit next to you with their legs in the water – and yes, your legs are in the water, too. Build on that trust. Don’t push too hard but encourage them to be brave in this new endeavor.

Help your child become comfortable around the water

Be prepared for the possibility that getting your young child to overcome their fear of water or the pool may take some time and lots of encouragement. New environments are full of unexpected sights, sounds, and smells. Take it slow with nervous beginners.

Once your child does start to show moments of enjoyment in the water, positively praise any progress. Continue to be patient and expect some plateaus or even setbacks from time to time.

Get help from experts

The AAP feels that children are able to grasp the basics of what’s necessary to learn to swim and be safer around water. They also recommend that these lessons be taught by certified professionals who know and understand the best ways to communicate and connect with young minds.

If you’re interested in learning more about our swim lessons for infants and young children, feel free to reach out to our team today by phone at 305-969-SWIM (7946) or by visiting our contact page. We offer an indoor, warm water pool that’s perfect to introduce your young child to the joys of swimming!

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