It’s not enough to say, “Just keep trying. You can do it.” Blanket statements hold little meaning for small children. They seek facts, evidence, and concrete advice. Often, they want to know the right way to get something done.
My sweet girl has always loved the water. She has never really been afraid of pools, but she has never wanted to swim independently. Spoiled by a community full of very warm and very shallow, kid-friendly pools, we’ve been able to introduce her to swimming in the safest possible way.
She loved the Mommy & Me classes from the very first day. Splashing while singing left her in a state of relaxed exhaustion after each class.
We’ve always tried to prioritize time spent in the water, but we haven’t always prioritized swimming lessons. One summer we tried to share private lessons with a friend, but the scheduling didn’t work out. Often, the group lessons at the community pool conflicted with baby brother’s nap schedule. Friends suggested survival swimming (no thanks), lessons in another town (no babysitter for baby brother), and private lessons that would come to us (no private pool).
And so we just kept swimming with her, giving her some basic safety skills along the way. This seemed to work just fine for a while, until it hit me that she was very, very afraid of putting her head under water.
We talked about the options: Group lessons at her favorite shallow pool. Private lessons at a house one town over. Semi-private lessons at a health club. With worried eyes and a tentative voice, she begged me not to make her go.
“I can swim fine, Mommy. You can keep teaching me.”
Tears welled up in her eyes as she waited for a response.
“It sounds like you’re feeling afraid, sweet girl. Are you afraid that you will have to put your head under?”
“Yes. I’m not ready and I don’t think I can tell someone no.”…