Swim Library

No Tears, No Fears

Photo Mar 26, 7 08 13 PM

Every child has a different personality growing inside them. Entering preschool, kindergarten, and other learning environments is a common time when we start to notice a child’s comfort level in stressful situations. When it comes to learning how to swim it is rather common for fear to enter a child’s mind. Sometimes learning how to be in the water evokes a lot of negative emotions in a child. Fear, stress, worry, and many others are very common in young children and others who are entering the water for the first time without any experience. At Waterworks Aquatics our trainers are trained how to work through these emotions. Often times a parent will see their child cry through lessons and wonder if they should stop swimming all together. The truth is this will only make the situation bigger and cause further distance from any desire to learn a skill like swimming. According to Psychology Today children have various tantrum trends that are rooted in anger and fear. These emotions do not happen in sequence or separately, in fact they happen at the same time. Removing a child from a lesson during these pivotal learning moments can have very negative results. Instructors at Waterworks learn how to diffuse these situations during the extensive training program they graduate from.

Instead of trying to reason with a child in these moments the best options for progress are direct commands or distraction. When a child enters a tantrum some separation from Mom and Dad can help. A trainer will take the child to a far corner of the pool and talk to them eye to eye. Asking a lot of questions as distractions can be effective. “What’s your favorite color?” “What did you have for breakfast?” “Who’s your favorite Disney princess?” Forcing a child to think about their answers to simple unrelated questions causes them to focus on trying to respond and their thoughts depart from the reason they were mad. Increasing the speed or “fun factor” of a lesson can help as well. As soon as a scared child realizes the situation they are in can be fun as long as they participate and listen; fear and anger can disappear from their mind much quicker. Removing a child from their lesson because of tantrums or crying will only promote similar behaviour in other stressful situations in the future. It will also cause regression in their skill sets in the water. The more time that passes between lessons because of fear the more these emotions will become permanent. A tantrum can be present during a lesson because of legitimate fear, discomfort, a need for a bathroom visit, or from desire to not want to do the task at hand. Telling the difference between fake crying and legitimate crying is something our trainers have been educated in. The more verbal a child is the less this happens.

Here are a few tips for controling your child's tears:

  • Stay in the Observation Room to allow the Instructor to build trust
  • Reinforce Good Behaviors and encourage enthusiasm in the pool
  • Practice Skills at home in a pool or bathtub

Waterworks Aquatics trainers talk to their students for a majority of their lessons to promote this. The more verbal a child is the more they can express themselves when they are afraid or don’t want to do something. Talk to your kids at home to promote open communication so that when they enter the water they can express their fears to their teachers. This way crying does not have to be the end of your child’s swimming experience. It is okay to leave them in the water to work out their fears as well. The earlier this experience happens for a child the less it will come up in the future for them in various situations throughout their lives!

By: Dan Patronilo