39 answers

Swimming Lesson Nightmare

My son turned 3 in Feb. He has only been in a pool a few times so I thought now would be the time to start lesson. He has been to two classes and it has been a nightmare. He sits on the edge of the pool and cried. Really cries. He has gone in the pool 3x w/the teacher but he is terrified. I don't expect him to really learn how to swim, I wanted him to get exposed to the water and get used to it. It is really hard for me to watch him sit on the edge of the pool and cry. On one hand I'm afraid he will be more afraid of the water if I "made" him do it, but I also don't want him to learn that if he cries I will come save him and he doesn't have to do anything. Of course some of it is too these classes aren't cheap and I'm sure I'm out of the money, he has 6 more classes to go. He goes 1x a week. Has anyone else had this experience? My husband wants me to pull him out, he thinks we are torturing him. I just don't know what to do.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you everyone for your suggestions. He has been a pool a few other times but always w/either me or one of my friends and he has always had floaties on his arms. My husband said that maybe the pool is scary since he is sitting on the edge and looking down and while he isn't in deep water it looks deep to him. I can't go in the pool with him, he goes to the local YMCA and since he is 3 parents aren't aloud in the pool with him. I think we are going to take him out and visit our local wading pools and get him used to them. My husband is going to take him to open swim this week and see how he does, than we will make the decision about going again on Sat. I'm glad to know that other children are having the same problem. The teacher is nice but he is a teenage boy and seems to be teaching him like he know how to swim. At the end of the class they let the kids on the noodles and free swim, that isn't going to happen even if my son wasn't scared. He can't swim. Thanks again.

Featured Answers

I always signed my kids up for the every-day lessons for 2 week sessions. My #2 daughter was the one who was terrified. They only let the parents stay in and watch for the first session. (She was 5, though, not 3). She cried and would not go in the water...was really upset. But I made her keep going and by the end of the 2 weeks, she was jumping off the board GIGGLING.... while the teacher waited in the water. I was amazed...

I think it is VERY important for all kids to learn how to swim and not be afraid of the water. I think it's a good experience for him... but I wonder if the once a week is not frequently enough for him to remember, "oh yes- there's fun about this..."

I am not the athletic type at all...I can swim, but I usually just dog paddle around... but all of my kids went on to be lifeguards all through high school which was a terrific summer job for them, and taught them skills which will last throughout their lives.. Two of them were on swim team in high school.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.! I had the same problem with my son when he was three so I know exactly how you feel. What I did was I bought one of those cheap kiddie pools and filled it with water, then I got in the pool to show my son that it was just water and that everything was going to be ok. I showed him that I would never make him do something that I wouldnt do my self. After he got used to watching me I said " Do you want to come play in the pool with mommy"? and he shook his head. So I said "But if you dont come play with me it will make me cry. You dont want to make mommy cry do you"? and then he said "no" and then he got into the pool and enjoy himself! So why dont you try what I did and tell me how it works out!

it doesn't sound like he's ready.

I would try to introduce him to water on a smaller basis. Pools look like oceans to little ones. Try getting him used to the kiddie pools with just a foot or two of water in them first. Perhaps take him to the gym or Y and take him into the jacuzzi. It's a much smaller amount of water to get used to. Let him put his feet in and get used to it at his own pace.

I know he's only 3, but perhaps try to talk to him about what he's scared of. Is he scared he will sink? Is he scared that he'll be splashed in the face? Is he scared of the pool area? It's a new environment, so maybe the entire room and smells scare him. Maybe the noise and other people make it hard for him to find a safe place to experience being in the water. Perhaps try to introduce him to the water when no one else is around or when a couple members of the family are around.

More Answers

I always signed my kids up for the every-day lessons for 2 week sessions. My #2 daughter was the one who was terrified. They only let the parents stay in and watch for the first session. (She was 5, though, not 3). She cried and would not go in the water...was really upset. But I made her keep going and by the end of the 2 weeks, she was jumping off the board GIGGLING.... while the teacher waited in the water. I was amazed...

I think it is VERY important for all kids to learn how to swim and not be afraid of the water. I think it's a good experience for him... but I wonder if the once a week is not frequently enough for him to remember, "oh yes- there's fun about this..."

I am not the athletic type at all...I can swim, but I usually just dog paddle around... but all of my kids went on to be lifeguards all through high school which was a terrific summer job for them, and taught them skills which will last throughout their lives.. Two of them were on swim team in high school.

1 mom found this helpful

If I were you, for now I would take him to a pool where it's fun to him. A lot of his fear is probably that you aren't in there with him and he trusts you, but doesn't know this instructor. Check into your local YMCA, they offer classes for kids where the mommy goes in the water with them and really does the safety part and helps them learn all the stuff. You definitely don't want him to develop a fear of water though. I started my kids in swim lessons when they were 4 and 5. Our neighbor has a pool so they were already in love with swimming when they took it.

Can you find parent/child swim classes where you can go in the pool with him? He may be as scared of being without you as he is of the water. 3 is still pretty young. Good luck! I know trying new things with a toddler can be a challenge.

My son did the same. He HATED to swim...swim lessons were a fight. Last summer (when he was 5) he learned to swim on his own, at his own pace and he LOVES it now. He can't wait til summer. He doesn't like swim lessons still though. He wants to learn at his own pace in his own time. I ask around and do research to learn how to teach him to swim on my own so we can make it more of a game rather than a scheduled event. It works much better for us.
PS we tried the parent child classes...that was equally as much torture!

I would look into a parent child class to begin with. this way he sees you in a class setting participating. then you can have the instructor try taking him for bits at a time so he gets used to someone new helping him in hte water. I have been a swim instructor for 13years and it isn't uncommon for beginners to do this. It is new to him. if you have any other questions feel free to contact me.

As a former swimming instructor i really think you should leave him in, even if all he does through the whole session is sit on the edge of the pool and cry he is still getting exposure to the water. If you yank him out now he is not going to get that exposure and is much more likely to carry his fear of water further into childhood. Because of my skills with the really scared kids i was the one who frequently got the 6 and 7 year olds who were still just as scared of the water as they were as toddlers. They were much harder to get through to than their younger counterparts. It sounds like the instructor is trying to engage your son (which is great) but also should not be forcing him to do things he does not want to do. eventually he will stop crying for long enough to realize that they are having a lot of fun in the pool and he will want to join in, it may not even be this session of swimming lessons but it will happen i promise.

Take him out.
Unless you and/or your husband are taking him to the pool for fun and/or to practice what he has "learned" at his lesson, you are wasting your money.
For best results you should take him to the pool at least 2 times between lessons.
Also, you are expecting a lot of a 3 year old especially if he did not know the teacher and was unfamiliar with the pool.

This may sound silly to you, but does your son like to play in the bath tub? My children loved to take a bath. I would let them play in the tub water for a minimum of 15 minutes before we got washed, etc., every day. It was sort of game time.
Do you have a wading pool for him? Does he enjoy splashing around in it?
If he really doesn't enjoy either of the above then he isn't ready for swimming lessons. Most areas with pools have a toddler pool to play in. You may need to take him to the "pool" at least 2 or 3 times a week this summer and play in the wading or kiddie pool with him to get him used to the idea that pools are fun before you worry about getting him swimming lessons.
All of my children were "water" babies and learned to swim before they took lessons and it all started with playing in the bath tub.

1 / 3
Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.