20 answers

5 Yr. Old Failing at Swim Lessons

My daughter is 5. She just started swim lessons at our local rec center and she is doing terrible. Her class is 25 mins. long and at best she stays in (without crying, for 10 mins.) I tried talking to her teacher and said what can we do?? She suggested that I go somewhere that she cant see me... so I tried that and it didn't work. Today I took her back and she didn't even want to get in the pool. So I threw her in the water (not to be mean, but to get her in and get her going). The teacher held onto her and tried to get her adjusted but she wouldn't stop crying.

The problem is -- she is great swimming at home with her water wings. She has no reservations when she has her water wings. I explained to her that the swim lessons will show her how to swim without them. I will give her a lot of credit because she has come a long way with water in general. A year ago she would go crazy if water hit her face. Like I said before, she has no reservations in the water as long as she has her water wings.

Tomorrow I am going to get in the water with her and see what happens. I am looking for suggestions and advice on what to do to MOTIVATE HER AND TEACH HER HOW TO SWIM. I am not open to someone telling me that 'now isn't the time', 'wait until next summer', etc. She is capable & and has shown me that she is ready to learn.... its just a matter of getting her to the next level. THANKS!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Today was the last day of the class. She mastered every task and has been promoted to the next swim class.

Featured Answers

Try SwimLabs they are wonderful. The are much smaller classes and the instructors are very nice and they really work with the kids. They are on Countyline and Holly The number is ###-###-####. Good Luck

Hi T.,

I'm going through a similar experience with my two girls who are 3 & 5. We have done group lessons since they were babies and every summer we start over. My girls are having anxiety over getting their faces wet and still haven't mastered going under water without screeming their heads off. I recently tried teaching them myself which made things worse.

Just this week I put them in semi-private lessons at the rec center. It seems to be helping because my 5 year old is voluntarily putting her face in the water.

If you can afford private lessons, I would recommend that with consecutive days and I would not stay and watch.

I also found a program that I would do if we could afford it. This program was for 6 weeks, 5 days a week, 10 minutes a session (private) with the water temp in the high 80's. I believe it costs $90 per week and $150 to register. If you're interested I can forward you the info.

Best of luck to you and me both.

C.

More Answers

Have you tried putting on the water wings in a deflated state? Maybe that would help her transition.

Can she stand up in the pool? That might help her feel more secure if you could find one that is shallow enough that she can touch the bottom. You might try doing "non-swimming" things at the shallow end -- throwing a ball back and forth, picking up pennies with your feet, holding on to the edge and kicking your feet, and so forth -- to help her gain confidence and not be afraid of the water.

Also, at five, she should be old enough to articulate what scares her and/or what might help her get over her fear. I think having you in the water with her might help her not be so scared as well.

Best wishes,

A.

One thing that I have learned is that you can not make a child do anything. If she doesn't want to do it she won't. All you can do is encourge her as much as possible. It sounds like she is doing alot of this to make you feel bad. Try to be patient.

Okay first of all, having taught children to swim for years...throwing her in was not the ideal scenario. She's in unfamiliar territory and the crying is a result of not being able to control her own situation. Then there is the terror of being without her water wings - they seem great, but they are a total mistake!

You are going to have to take it slow with her. And I would strongly suggest even at 5, having a discussion with her before her lesson giving her the opportunity to express her feelings, then offering reassurance and even a reward FOLLOWING the lesson if she meets your agreed upon objectives.

Remember…you want her water safe, but not at the expense of hating the water for the rest of her life. And NEVER revert back to the water wings!!!

Congratulations on finding a way to accomplish what you needed to.

Maybe you could take her to the rec center earlier in the day during an "open swim" time. Then she'll have plenty of time to take it at her own pace, not feel rushed and be with her mom. I would think that by then she would have become more comfortable with her surroundings and able to participate in class.

This is not uncommon for Rec. Center Swim Lessons.
I used to offer private swim lessons in my childcare
until my instructor moved.
It may not have anything to do with your daughter.

I recommend a certain swim school to my childcare clients.
I can not think of the name at the moment and I am not home.
I have been a caregiver for children for 32 years.
They are more pricey, but I spent the day in the pool last week with a 3 yr old who can swim the pool length.
The parents took her where I suggested.

If you are interested I can get the info.
Just reply to my response.

P. Ann
www.braveheartwomen.com/P.
(click on about me to connect with me)
HEAVENLY HUGS @ BABY ANGELS CHILDCARE
KIDMITMENT CHILDCARE TRAINING

your five year old will learn when she sees all her little friends doing it. My daughter also took lessens around the same age. She swam like a rock and drank hald the pool water. I decided not to push the lessons just as long as she was exposed. She is now nine and swims like a fish not from swimming lessons but from hanging out with her friends that liked to swim. My theory has always been.. They don't have to be great at what they do, but they should at least be exposed to various activities. Remember ever child loves a cheerleader.

She is 5 years old- She is fine to keep using the waterwings. If she was 12 and still using them that would be a concern. This is a comfort for her, don't make swimming a punishment- let her be!!! take her out of the class and let her know that when she is ready that is great.

Hi T., my 5 year old daughter just finished her first swimming lessons a few weeks ago and we were having the same problem. I've guessed that she just has a real fear of water. I've gotten her to talk to me and she tells me she didn't like the sound water made in her ears and she didn't like how it felt in her eyes or on her face. At the pool her teacher, and thank God she had her own private teacher, had to stay in the shallow end. My daughter would not go any deeper than her shoulders, even in/on floating devices. Once I found out what was bothering her we would "practice" in the bathtub. She would put each ear one at a time in the water and pretty soon I got her to lay on her back in very shallow water and get her hair and ears wet. But she still has strong reservations about her face and eyes and she doesn't like the idea of goggles either. I've learned that calm communication works best. She tried harder to learn to swim when we both started off calm and I was encouraging her not getting mad at her, and starting off in the shallow end. Getting mad and frustraited and forcing her to do something she doesn't will only make it worse. You being in the water may also help but I think you really need to calmly sit down with your daughter and gently talk and ask her what makes her so scared. Why is she afraid of the water? Some people are just afraid of the water just like some are afraid of heights or spiders and sometimes there's not much you can do to change that. Although I don't want to give up on my daughter, I'm starting to think she may never learn to swim and you know what, that's ok, she's a great dancer!

It sounds like your daughter depends a lot on those wings to give her the confidence she needs. Maybe you could ween them away in her home experience,let her know that you have seen great improvement even at home, then ask her to show her swimming teacher how good she is and make a game of it.Then you might offer her a reward each time she succeeds.
At such a young age she may seem capable to you, but there may be something about the swimming pool or people she is with that scares her.
A fun game that the kids play at our pool in the shallow end goes like this. One kid stands facing the others. Then the group says to him, "Alligator,Alligator, what time is it? The kid says four o'clock. Then the group of kids take four great big strokes toward the alligator and this repeats until they get close enough for the alligator to snap his arms and "bite them." This game helps the kids get used to the water without using anything like "water wings".
If you ask the teacher at the pool they might have a similar game that will help her get used to the water and at the same time be distracted from having to depend on those water wings.
Good Luck! P.

We had a similar problem, and it took almost a year before our daughter communicated her issues witht eh pool and lessons. I have one question, why does she have to "get to the next level"? I think it is more important to get her confidence up then to learn text book strokes. Perhaps this year you can work on her treading water - which is a life saving skill - in differnt situations/pools. Be sure to NOT put a negative to pools/water that is out of her comfort zone.

I would try an Infant Swim Resource Instructor (ISR).
http://www.infantswim.com/
My 5 yr was afraid of the water as a toddler and now she is a great swimmer. She can swim & float, and goes under water confidently. ISR teaches life saving skills and real practical swimming skills in short one on one lessons. Having her depend on the water wings is fine but it does not actually teach her to swim. I had a scary water incident as a child, and till this day I am not crazy about water, my mom never made take swimming lessons as a child because I freaked out a few times when she tried to take me. Now, I am not a good swimmer at all and hate the water. I will lounge around a pool and hang out it, but you will not see me diving in a pool, or swimming in lakes, etc. You need to find a teacher that she trusts and is comfortable with in the water to teach her to swim and get confidence in herself as a swimmer. I was the kid who freaked out if I got water in my face, and still to this day I am not a water person and will avoid it if possible except when my kids want to go swimming.

There is a great instructor at Mountain View Aquatic Center in Loveland, her name is Nicole. nHer private lessons are very resonable and she has done amazing things for my kids. My son wouldn't even go in the pool a year ago and know he is swimming in the deep end by himself.

My only suggestions might be, have you tried a private lesson? Or why don't you take her to the pool a few times and take those water wings off her. With you perhaps she'll become more comfortable in the water with someone she trusts.

Good luck
L.

Hi T.,

I'm going through a similar experience with my two girls who are 3 & 5. We have done group lessons since they were babies and every summer we start over. My girls are having anxiety over getting their faces wet and still haven't mastered going under water without screeming their heads off. I recently tried teaching them myself which made things worse.

Just this week I put them in semi-private lessons at the rec center. It seems to be helping because my 5 year old is voluntarily putting her face in the water.

If you can afford private lessons, I would recommend that with consecutive days and I would not stay and watch.

I also found a program that I would do if we could afford it. This program was for 6 weeks, 5 days a week, 10 minutes a session (private) with the water temp in the high 80's. I believe it costs $90 per week and $150 to register. If you're interested I can forward you the info.

Best of luck to you and me both.

C.

Dear T.,
I'm sorry to say this but the last thing I would have done was to throw her in the water and have the teacher hold her there. Had someone did that to me I would have been terrified after that to ever go back in. I'm not trying to judge or make you feel bad but I had a stepson and did the same thing to him and it was years before he was able to overcome his fear of water.
I have a question, why can't she use the water wings for a while during her swimming lessons, then try to take one off and let her get comfortable with that then the other. Something I did with my other 3 children was I let them be on my back in the water and I would tell them that I was going to go under water and if they wanted me to come up was just tap me on the shoulder. It worked wonders. By the time they were 5 and 6 they were diving down to the bottom of the pool. And it all started with me taking them down a ways and they would tap and I'd go up. Eventually we made it down to the bottom and back up. They learned to trust what I said. I would definitly suggest you being the one in the water with her as she trusts you. Let me know how things work out. Some children just need more time and patience than others as they are all unique.
My email is ____@____.com
Blessing C.

We had similiar issues with my daughter and our pool. Even with the water wings and floaty devices with me right there, she was very scared. She said it was too big, and I wonder if you daughter may be feeling overwhelmed by the size of the pool and all that water? When she swims at home, is the pool a smaller size than the one the use for the lessons?

Does she tell you why she doesn't want to go into the pool? Is it because she can't have her water wings with her?

I think going into the water with her is an excellent idea, because she probably needs reassurance that the pool is OK and just because it's big, it's not scary. And Mommy doesn't need the water wings to swim - I think if you can show her Mommy has fun in the water, she may see that swimming is FUN.

Good luck.

I had the same problem with my now 6 year old. He hated swim lessons and sometimes water in general including baths. He took the same class at our local YMCA twice and still didn't pass, but he is more comfortable in the water now. The teacher had to establish trust with him, but somedays he still cried and didn't want to do it. I bought the float belts from them that they use to teach for all my boys (I couldn't find them in stores), as well as noodles and kick boards at Wal-Mart. They keep them up just enough, but they have to use their arms and legs. They say the water wings prevent them from learning to swim with their arms. Austin is now having lots more fun in the water, even putting his face in (quickly), which he wouldn't do during lessons. Hope this helps.

Hi T.,
It looks like you've already got lots of advice, but I thought I would just put this out there. We had a similar experience at our local rec. center. I was referred to Safe Splash Swim School. I am not sure where you live. If you can find one close by, we had an incredible experience. The teachers are all college age or older and this is what they do for a living. They are excellent at dealing with whatever the kids can throw at them. It was very funny to me to sit in the lobby and chat with the other parents. Almost everyone had a similar story to tell. This is the place to take kids when the neighborhood rec. center isn't working out.
Best of luck!

Try SwimLabs they are wonderful. The are much smaller classes and the instructors are very nice and they really work with the kids. They are on Countyline and Holly The number is ###-###-####. Good Luck

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