Ask David (and Kim): What Should I Say When My Kids Complain About Swimming?
>As a parent signing your child up for our Gilbert swimming lessons, you’re probably feeling a wave of excitement, questions, and maybe even a few concerns. “When should I start teaching them how to swim?” “How many lessons do they need?” “Should I buy any gear or equipment?”
At EVO Swim School, our goal is to offer the very best aquatic instruction for infants, children, pre-competitive swimmers, and adults. Part of that instruction includes helping people be knowledgeable and confident swimmers, so from time to time, Owner David Tait will discuss answers to some of the common questions he receives from parents and students at our school.
This month, David welcomes a special guest — his wife, Kim — to share advice about how to respond when your child complains about taking swimming lessons.
1. What are the most common complaints you hear from kids about swim lessons?
David: The most common complaint I hear from our young students is not wanting to go to lessons because they are not yet confident and/or comfortable in the water yet. Most kids are just uncomfortable until they figure out they can swim on their own. Think about how you felt when you were learning to ride a bike! That’s probably how your child is feeling now.
Kim: The one thing I’ve noticed is that every single child goes through an adjustment period when being introduced to formal swim lessons. Some (few) adapt more quickly and are happily swimming along in no time. Others (most) are not so keen on things like dipping their head underwater and may put on a good show of how upset they are about it.
2. Where do you think those complaints stem from?
David: Uncertainty is #1. Sometimes, kids feel pressured or scared of swimming, but that’s often just uncertainty in disguise. Fortunately, our swimming instructors have specific techniques for building confidence so they feel more secure and less fearful.
3. What should parents and coaches say to address those common complaints?
David: The #1 mistake parents make is giving a child who doesn’t know how to swim the “option” of taking swimming lessons. They must understand that this is mandatory, not a choice. This is for their own benefit and safety.
If a child feels like they have a say in the matter, they normally cry and rebel much harder and longer, whereas if they feel like it’s just a fact of life, they will be far more teachable and willing to try new things.
EVO’s coaches talk to parents to let them know that crying is normal and not a cause for concern or embarrassment. Tears are part of the game and can easily be washed away if the parents support the coach’s instruction. Kids cry every day, but they also overcome those tears every day!
Kim: Agreed. Our children went through various periods of crying during swim lessons. You can imagine how frustrating this was for us! But we realized early on that it is a very common and natural response for any beginner.
Their response is very similar to when I dropped my children off for their first day of school. It is a new environment where they are being challenged to do difficult things that might be outside of their comfort zone. But in the end, I knew the same thing about swim lessons that I knew about their classroom: If I am consistent and encouraging, they will grow confident in their abilities. If I – as their mom – am strong, and try not to validate their fears by rushing in and “rescuing” them, they will soon realize that a swim lesson is not something to be afraid of!
4. Any other words of wisdom for parents trying to help their kids overcome their fears and embrace the water?
Kim: Starting to take our Gilbert swimming lessons comes with lots of uncertainty, but I know a few things for sure:
A. The instructors your children are working with are top notch.
B. Children are capable of doing hard things.
C. Learning to swim in Arizona is not really optional. Kids can cry during lessons as a three year old, or they can cry during lessons as a ten year old. Either way, they have to learn sometime!
Today, our children are happy, confident swimmers. We wish our students and their family the same success. As a parent, the greatest thing you can do for your child may be to step outside of their eyesight and let an amazing, qualified instructor teach them the life-saving skill of swimming. Your child may find this uncomfortable at first…and in all honesty, so will you! But, like most difficult things, it is well worth it. And, in the end, you know as well as we do…they can totally do it!
For more advice from David and Kim or information about swim lessons at EVO, get in touch with us at 480-404-6191.