Every parent we have worked with (especially parents of our littlest swimmers) have a constant ongoing struggle: I want my child to have fun in the water, but I really want them to be safe. So what’s the trade off?
Right off the bat, we want to be clear, infants and children ages 6 months – 4 years rarely start out enjoying safety lessons. At this age, there are a whole range of factors that result in an initial negative reaction including:
- Dislike of water in their ears or eyes
- Wanting to move around and play, holding still on their back does NOT sound as fun
- Drinking the water (we spend a lot of time working on holding their breath and blowing bubbles but some kids tend to swallow water and it can upset their stomach)
- Developmental milestones – A few examples include:
- Separation Anxiety – “Babies can become anxious and fearful when a parent leaves their sight. Separation anxiety is usually at its peak between 10 and 18 months. It typically ends by the time a child is 3 years old.” –Standford Children’s Health
- Independence – From the ages of 2-4, kids are learning a lot about what they are able to do independently. They may want to be in control of the lesson and get nervous when they realize they don’t have the skills to handle the water just yet.
- Fear – between the ages of 3-5 children begin to learn that they can get very hurt. Whether they have experienced it, or been taught, they start to understand that water is dangerous and this can lead to a fear of lessons.
- Confusion. If water, up until this point has ONLY been “playtime,” your child may be confused about why we are working with them on blowing bubbles, going under the water, and floating. Our lessons will not always be fun because we want them to have these life-saving skills even when they are nervous.
The most important thing to remember is that, just because they don’t enjoy lessons at first does NOT mean they will hate water forever. In fact, you are giving your child a chance to have real confidence in the water. Teaching your child to love the water without teaching them safety skills puts your child at risk every time you are near a pool or body of water. While their are many layers of prevention when it comes to drowning, giving your child a complete understanding of what it means to be safe in the water, and the skills to handle unexpected water encounters, can save their life.
The AAP reported, “The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) studied drownings among children age 4 and under…It found that nearly 70% of the children were not expected to be at or in the pool, yet they were found in the water.”HTTPS://WWW.HEALTHYCHILDREN.ORG/ENGLISH/SAFETY-PREVENTION/AT-PLAY/PAGES/POOL-DANGERS-DROWNING-PREVENTION-WHEN-NOT-SWIMMING-TIME.ASPX
Once your child is safe, and we are confident that they could replicate the skills if necessary, we can move on to fun! Starting the very first lesson, we make sure to end every 20 minute lesson with rings, toys, and snuggles so that we can help your child start connecting their skills with play. As their confidence grows, and we get to know them a little better, we start combining their favorite games with the routine of lessons. Starting at about 3 years old, we will begin moving them on to strokes and diving to help them continue to see progress and feel successful in their swimming lessons.
We know that fun is important but at Mountain Wave Swimming, your child’s safety will always come first. Allowing them to cry and experience the difficulty of learning new skills will not hurt them and maybe one of the best investments you can make into their safety.
**If, at any time, you have a question about any method your instructor is using, discuss it first with that instructor. If your concern is still not resolved, you can email us directly and we can make sure the lesson plan being used is the best fit for your child.