Pre-School

WWYD

My daughter goes to the summer camp program at her school, she is 4yrs old. Normally she is excited to go to school, never cries, can't wait to see her friends. Now in the summer program she has swimming classes everyday after lunch. She now cries every morning when she wakes begging not to go and when I drop her off. She says she is afraid to go under in the pool she doesn't want to go. She has anxiety all day until it is done, won't even eat her lunch. When she gets home she says she had a great day and wants to practice all her swimming moves in the bath. 

Today I let her forget her bathing suit at home so she knew going in she would not have to swim today, she didn't cry, kissed me good bye with big waves and ate all her lunch and said it was the best, best, best day.

Do I let her quite swimming because she is afraid and let her think it is alright to quit anytime you don't want to do something? Or do I make her keep going because in the end I know she loves it once she gets past the initial fear? My DH says make her keep going but I don't want to see her suffer everyday. 

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Re: WWYD

  • That's tough, since after swimming she is fine.  My son has general anxiety and the fear of swimming is horrible.  Sometimes I can get him in up to his knees.  But at least recently he stopped tantrumming when I wash his hair.  For him I am not pushing it. 

    In your case I would find a way to drop in and observe or call and speak with the instructor, and explain her physiological and emotional response.  Ask the instructor to give you and your child a promise that she will not be physically forced to go under.  And if it did not allay the anxiety I would likely let her take a break and start again in September. 

    I am not sure how the forgetting went, however, I would not teach her how to be sneaky to get out of something.  That is going to cause huger problems than allowing her to quit.

    If you really want to be happy, no one can stop you.

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  • This is a great question. I'm curious to see the others responses.
    If she doesn't swim is there something else for her to do?
    I'm my mind she is 4. If she doesnt want to swim every day I'd let her stop for a week and bring it up again. I understand the desire to teach follow through but she is 4.

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  • I had a similar situation with my DD recently, except that I didn't drop her off for lessons. I go with her and watch her. She's scared of going underwater, and the teacher forced her under one day. Ever since then, she doesn't trust the teacher. I asked the teacher not to force her under, but it didn't help. Now, DD just sits on the step for the entire class b/c she doesn't trust that the teacher won't let her sink. I partially blame the teacher for this b/c I don't think she has experience working with kids of different skill levels. 

    I considered quitting but decided to keep DD in class just to show her the value of sticking with your commitments.  

    In your situation, I would do as PP suggested and talk to the teacher about not making her go underwater. IMO it isn't necessary to go underwater to learn how to swim, and they will get over their fear in their own time. Hopefully your DD will do better if the teacher stops this.  



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  • Tough call.

    I tend to agree with DH to some degree. If she fears going under, the only thing that will fix it is going under in a supported manner. You can make this go away by taking her out of lessons and revisiting it later. But in doing so, you are giving her the message that she's not tough enough to get past this. And you are giving her more time to be frightened of the experience and build it to a bigger thing than it is now.

    DS had this issue at 4. We hired a private instructor to work with him and get him past it. It took about 2-3 private lessons playing and rough housing to get DS completely under and loving it.

  • I think maybe quit this specific swim class she is in, something is making her fearful.

    However, after a few weeks revisit this.  Finding a one-on-one swim instructor, who will take his/her time getting DS used to the water again will help.

    In my experience swim instructors in group settings don't have the time to work with children with specific fears - I had a fear of getting off the wall of the pool, they didn't care.  They still held me, pulling me through the water saying, "Kick - Kick!"  Frankly I wasn't focused on their teaching me, I made the actions happen but in my head I didn't care I just wanted to get back to the wll.
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