Staying on the subject of swimming lessons, I want to address those children who have a definite fear of the water, and there are more than you might think.
Russell, who I mentioned in my last post, was one of those. But I usually encountered several each year. It takes a lot of time and infinite patience to bring these kids to a point where they can enjoy the water. However, it CAN be done.
Some of those afraid of the water will at least go into the water as long as they are being firmly held. But there is the occasional child who won’t even do that without screaming and pitching a fit. These require extra effort, and different methods.
A parent CAN do this, but it’s best done by a third party—preferably a qualified swim instructor. And the reason for this is all about manipulation. I can remember being able to manipulate my parents. And I’m sure you have similar memories. But a teacher couldn’t be manipulated.
How it’s done:
The child and teacher sit somewhere on the pool deck, as close to the pool as the child will tolerate. The teacher then takes a large bowl and dips it into the pool to fill it up with pool water, and places it in front of the child. Then they play in the water together, letting the child do whatever he/she wants—feeling, splashing, swishing around. And the teacher talks the whole time about how the water is cool and refreshing—and friendly. Hopefully, they can get to the point of splashing the water on the child—but carefully.
Once that’s accomplished, they get a straw, put it in the bowl of water and blow bubbles. This may take some practice. When the child is comfortable doing that, then the teacher should encourage him/her to put their mouth on the water to blow bubbles. Then work on holding their breath and putting their head in the bowl of water. But ONLY when the child wants to!
The whole time the teacher should remind the child that it’s the same water as in the pool.
When all the above is accomplished go to the pool edge and just sit on the side. The child can be encouraged to kick and splash as much as he/she wants.
Then, when the child is ready, take him/her into the pool, holding them the whole time, just walking around the pool. Depending on the degree of fear, this could take days or weeks. But gradually, the child is lowered closer to the water, encouraged to kick and splash, and maybe even blow bubbles.
Then the child has overcome their fear enough to learn to swim.
All of the above can take a few days, weeks or months. But remember—on the child’s schedule!