Son Hates Swimming Lessons

Updated on June 10, 2008
D.J. asks from Amarillo, TX
10 answers

My son started swimming lessons this past Monday. He is four years old, and has never taken them before. He was so excited the first day, but it did not go well. He didn't like getting his face wet at all, and quit about halfway through. We have been to two more lessons, and things have not improved. My husband and I have tried encouragement, bribes, threats, and even going out of sight so maybe he would do better. He just sits on the steps and cries. The teachers are very understanding, but they don't know what to do either. Any suggestions? I really don't want him to quit, but I'm not sure we are achieving much either.

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answers from McAllen on

I understand mothers' feelings of "if he doesn't like it he shouldn't have to" but on the other hand, if my kid falls in the water at some point, I want them to be able to get out safely. If they go to a birthday party with swimming, he'll be missing out. I hated lessons too, I cried, but I'm glad I know how to swim. Make him go, he'll thank you later.

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answers from Dallas on

Oh my, I'm surprised with some of these responses. I have taught lessons for more than 10 years from infants all the way to adults. Four years old is not too young in my book. ;)

Some suggestions that I have (which may or may not work):

1. If you don't have any already, buy him some "Goggles". Target has some inexpensive Speedo googles for youth that tend to work much better than the cheaper kinds.

2. Take him to a pool with some friends or family and just play. Don't worry about putting his face in the water, because that will come. Play, play, and play. Show him that swimming can be a lot of fun. Do this a lot during the summer. Even taking him with kids that know how to swim so he can see how much fun they are having, etc.

3. Bring toys, and even little ping pong balls that he can blow around on the top of the water. Eventually you can work on blowing bubbles in the water.

Don't ever compare your child with another in swimming. But just to show you that a 4 year old is not too young, my little girl can swim a length of the pool. She doesn't have the breathing to the side yet, but all that will come.

Good luck!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Some people just don't like to swim, and most parents are not accepting of that. I took swimming lessons as a kid but never really learned b/c I hated it, and I hated getting my face wet. I don't like anything about swimming. Everyone has things they like and things they don't, so from experience, I say, don't push him. If he wants to participate, great, but if it is distressing to him to have his face wet, then he's just going to avoid getting his face wet at all costs! So, please, don't push.
One of my daughters is the same way, btw, and my husband and I don't agree on the approach. But, nobody can be forced to learn, really.



answers from Dallas on

Christine has some really great suggestions. I agree, 4 is not to early. He just hasn't done this before and needs some time to adjust perhaps. It's only been a week and it may take a week or two more for him to begin to enjoy it. I saw this last summer with my son's swim school. The first week, many (including my son) cried or put up a bit of a struggle. Generally after a week or two things got much much better.

My son was afraid to jump in and get his face/head wet. The instructor suggested we work with him by getting him to jump off things (like the sofa) with us catching him. It really helped. Also, going to the pool with him and practicing a few times a week also helped. Also, let him pour a glass of water over your head and then get him to pour it on his head.

He's 4 and it may take some time and patience on everyone's part, but don't give up yet. My son cried and fussed, but when you asked him if he liked swimming school afterwards he always said yes. Go figure. I think the otter pops at the end of class also helped. :)

Good luck!



answers from Abilene on

If you were talking about baseball or soccer I would say tough it out but with it being swimming and water related I say give in. You don't want him to be scared of the water or have a bad experience that causes problems down the road.

My mom is totally paranoid of the water at age 63 because of something that happened when she was 6! It's just not worth it.

Good Luck!



answers from Dallas on

I know every kid is different, but we just started lessons last week at Spirals Gym in Mansfield, and my kids both loved it! Their pool is only 18" deep where they teach, and although the coach seemed (to my husband and me) a little militaristic, all the kids seemed to respond really well. They have some sort of teaching device that did make the kids feel more comfortable in the water -- not sure if they will really learn to swim but they're very excited to go back tomorrow for lesson #2.

All parents had to be inside while the kids were at the pool (the coach demanded their attention) and all but one of 12 were good with that. The one who cried also got over it pretty quickly...will see if he is back tomorrow!

You might want to check into a different place, perhaps after giving your son a break for a few weeks? I'm sure plenty of kids never take swim lessons, and grow up just fine -- so if he just doesn't take to it maybe he will like something else better. We've gone to gymnastics and sports classes at the Little Gym and all the kids really enjoy that. There's a gym at Spirals too although we have not used it.



answers from Dallas on

He is not too young! Don't worry. If he doesn't make it through this summer he most likely will next summer. I would continue going as long he wants to continue going. As long as wants to go, he won't be "scarred". It's if you force him to go when he will get scarred. He's only 4, if he doesn't feel ready, that's okay. My son actually thru a fit two years in a row then we finally met the right teacher and right program and he loves it. He's on his 6th year of lessons working on his strokes & stamina and heading toward junior life guard training. I would not ask for money back. Swimming lessons are a gamble at that age. The teacher is not responsible to determine if your child is ready until they get the child into the pool. Only then, if they tell you the 1st or 2nd day he is not ready then, you would ask for money back.



answers from Dallas on

Hello Diana,

He's not ready. see if they'll give you some $ back or some credit towards lessons in the fall or winter. at home, work on getting water splashed on his face when in the tub. buy him a good life vest and have fun this summer. Good luck! ~C.~



answers from Dallas on

My son started at 5.5 months and he's 17 and he is swims like a fish now. I had him in lessons again at 18 months and 3 years. I would say to let him sit on the side and watch the other kids and maybe he would think that he is missing out, but don't push him.



answers from Tyler on

My son is 11 and "taught" himself to swim by being with his friends at the pool. Four does seem a little young to me for lessons. I also have a 7 yr old who is just now getting used to being in the water.

I agree that you should try to get a little money back or a credit and just have fun. I learned to swim at swimming lessons at 8 and then "forgot" how to swim. Now I can't swim above water to save myself, but I can swim below the surface and on the bottom of the pool all day.

Every child is different -- I agree. Even if the whole class is 4, your child may not be ready. I saw a "floatation suit" at Wal-Mart for only $10 yesterday. They have the floats around the torso and are great for that age.

Don't be too pushy. Fear can make it more dangerous.

Good luck!

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