My husband and I have always considered swimming lessons necessary for our children. Our boys are now ages nine, seven and four, and they LOVE to go to swimming lessons.
Our four-year-old especially gets excited as the time grows closer. He runs to me carrying his swim suit, ready to change. He is the first one to race to the car and wastes no time getting into his car seat.
When he sees his teacher, he rushes to the edge of the pool and with a big smile on his face, he jumps in to him. He has no trouble bobbing up and down and doesn’t complain about putting his head under the water.
No, I never have trouble getting my boys ready for their swimming lessons. They love to go. But it wasn’t always that way.
There always seems to be at least one child in the parent/child or younger child classes that has a hard time. When I say has a hard time, I mean crying uncontrollably and clinging to their parent’s dry leg.
As their parent peels them off and hands them to the teacher that is already in the water, their screams sound like they are truly being tortured. Other parents can sympathize.
It always reminds me of when I was the parent of the screaming child.
Our middle son was about one and a half when we first signed him up for the parent and toddler swimming class. My husband and I decided that I would be the one to swim with him that first night.
That was a mistake.
Our son was very unsure of being in the water and clung to me with his arms wrapped tight around my neck. I could feel his rapid heartbeat pounding through his colorful rash gard shirt.
The parents were told to “bob” their kids in the water and dunk their heads all the way under. I couldn’t pry my son off my neck.
So I bobbed my head under water. He wailed.
Then he got smart. The next time he heard the word, “bob,” he grabbed my face with his tiny hands and begged me, “No Mommy, no.”
His eyes welled up with tears and I fell for it.
I did what you should never do. I caved and held my son closer.
For the next lesson, my husband dressed in his swim suit and carried him to the pool. I waited in the next room behind the glass, where I couldn’t hear his cries.
Tough love. That same son, now seven, loves his lessons and has become a good swimmer.
This worked for us and our son, but every child is unique. If your child is the one crying at swimming class, or soccer, or T-ball, or any other class, only you can decide what is best for your child.
Edited by Jody Smith