Crying is always expected from children who are starting their very first lesson with us. Your child could be dealing with separation anxiety (which is a normal part of growing up), they are in a brand-new environment with multiple new faces. The feeling of being in the water for the first time is a very different sensation for children to experience and takes some getting used to.
We know it is hard to watch your child cry throughout their lessons, it will only be temporary but with a few tips, they will be on their way to enjoying their lessons in no time!
1. Prepare your child for their lessons
We will send you a confirmation email of your new booking and on there will state the teachers name your child is going to have. We have all of our instructor’s profiles on our website for parents and children to view prior to their swimming lessons. You can show your child what the instructor looks like and tell them their name. You are also able to show them photos of the pool they are going to be swimming at so it is not so much of shock when they turn up for their first lesson. Reassure your child that they are going to be safe and that their teacher will help and look after them.
2. Keep going!!
Don’t pull your child out mid-lesson or cancel swimming lessons altogether if they continue to cry. Swimming lessons are a life saving skill and is just as important to know, as it is to put on a seat belt. Our swim teachers are trained on how to help your child, and we have a deckhand pool side to assist also. If you decide to pull them out of the lesson part way through, you are teaching them that it is okay to cry, and they will expect to hop out early again next time.
3. Stay calm
Children pick up when their parents are nervous or anxious and it rubs off onto them. We ask parents to remain calm and let the instructor do their work. You can stand out of site of the child until they calm down, or sit pool side and provide encouragement from there, eg thumbs up, clapping, smiling etc. Keep in mind that once the child feels comfortable with the instructor, the tears will stop.
4. Don’t feel bad for the instructor
Often a parent is okay with their child crying however feels sorry for the instructor of the class. As mentioned, our instructors are trained on situations where the child feels anxious and have different learning methods to help the child feel safe.
5. Practice makes perfect!
Some activities used in the lessons you can practice at home, so when they arrive at lessons the following week they are prepared on what the are going to do again. You can practice pouring water over their face and doing their “balloon face”, or even practicing their kicking or circle arms around the house. When they can do these well, you can make them excited to show their swimming teacher at the next lesson.
With a little bit of perseverance on both ends we are confident that children eventually get past their fears or anxiety and will begin to learn to love swimming lessons. We are always so proud to see children who start off anxious, grow into amazing little fish!