Thursday, April 28, 2011

Swim, baby, swim

Today was Annika's 3rd swimming lesson.  Despite having a good start, things have started to go downhill.  Last week she was a bit hesitant, and kept trying to hold onto the side of the pool.  She was okay for most of the lesson, though, until it was time to go down the slide.  She slipped on the ladder getting out and started to cry.  She seemed to recover, but then when she turned and saw me she lost it and started bawling and ran to me (a big no-no at the pool).  She wanted to leave right then (there was about 5 minutes left in the class), but the teacher managed to convince her to come back and she even went down the slide.  After the class was over, though, she started crying again.

I was a little worried this morning about how she would do today.  She seemed fine while we were getting ready, but as soon as she got in the pool, she lost it again.  She was crying and calling for me.  I tried to reassure her from the side of the pool, but it wasn't much help.  I asked the teacher if it would be better for me to watch from the viewing room, rather than being by the side of the pool.  She said it might help, so I told Annika I would be watching her from the window and left her.  And my heart broke a little.

It was really hard being in the viewing room.  Because of where they were in the corner of the pool, I couldn't actually see Annika for most of the lesson.  However, I could still hear her crying every now and then, even in the other room.  My heart broke a little more.  I wondered whether I was doing the right thing - whether it was better for her if she couldn't see me, or if she was now distressed because she thought her mommy deserted her in her time of need.  I wondered whether I should take her out of swimming lessons altogether.  I really want her to learn to swim, but I don't want her to have a bad experience with lessons that could make her fearful of the water.  As a child, I HATED swimming lessons (I had a few bad experiences), and I really wanted this to be something that was fun for her.  I felt sick for most of the lesson.  I was counting down the minutes until I could go get her.

Afterwards we talked a little bit about the fact that she had been crying, but I tried to mostly focus on what had been fun during the lesson (there were at least a few things).  When Annika's upset, I usually try to divert her attention from the negative and focus on the positive aspects, but I'm wondering whether I should talk to her a bit more about why she was so upset.  Maybe it would be helpful for her to acknowledge what was making her upset?  Or maybe not??  I'd appreciate any advice, if anyone has any.

I have a strong inclination to take her out of swimming lessons, but we're going to give it at least one more week (or maybe 2).  Like I said, I really want her to learn to swim, but if now is not the best time, then I'm okay with waiting until fall.  By fall she'll be a bit bigger and perhaps more confident.  She'll also have had the summer to go swimming, and might feel a bit more comfortable in the water by then.  I guess we'll wait and see how the next few weeks go.  Hopefully next week is better, for both of us!


LaughingLady said...

Our girls hated swimming at that age, too. I didn't bother putting them in lessons until we knew from personal experience that they were getting more comfortable in the water and actually wanted to be wet! The bathtub was one thing, but a lake or pool was something else entirely!!

I think they both started the summer after kindergarten, and they have both LOVED lessons since then and done really well.

It probably wouldn't be a bad thing to pull her out and just go to the pool/lake with her every now and again, just for fun, until she expresses a strong desire to be in the water on her own.

There, that's my two cents-worth!

Melissa said...

I would definitely acknowledge her negative feelings about swimming, than you will have a better idea if it would be a good option to try again later. I think it's always a good thing to talk about how we are feeling especially in times of fear and sadness.

I would ask if you or Carey could go into the pool with her, in Sea Otter Sydney's coach said that the parents should come until the child feels comfortable? Swimming is a life skill, but loads of people have a very real fear of the water, I would want her first experiences with lessons to be a positive one.

Those are my thoughts:)

Rhonda said...

I know that with Chasadya I was in the pool with her for the first few lessons, even though she didn't really need it, and some of the parents were in there a few weeks longer yet. Maybe if that's not an option, she's in the wrong level. Chasadya was in a class with 3 and 4 year olds, and the other kids younger than her(she was the oldest) were a bit more hesitant, but then the parents just stayed in the pool longer. But you don't want to traumatize her so much that she fears it forever either. Hope you can figure something out.

Gin said...

I'm not a Mom and I've never had little kids BUT I have had to work really hard getting over my fear of the water. I'm so glad that you've got her in swimming. I wish I had taken swimming lessons when I was young.

I agree with Melissa that talking about fears and why we're sad is an important life skill as well.

That's my long way of saying, I think you're doing the right thing by having her in swimming. Encouraging her to talk about it will likely help. I wish you the best!

Andrea said...

I'm curious too as to which level she's in? I was surprised to hear that you weren't in the water with her. I think if it were me, I would keep her in but ask to join her in the pool and see what kind of a difference that makes first.

I get not wanting her experience with water to be traumatizing, but I also think it's important for kids to start learning to swim at an early age.

Nancy said...

As a former swimming instructor I was really surprised that parents were not with their kids in the water. I am a huge advocate of kids leaning to swim as early as possible (more for safety reasons) but it is SO important that they have a good experience with the water. My suggestion would be to see if you can go in the water with her at swimming lessons. If you can't, I would suggest taking her to the pool with you during the week. If she can have some time in the water with you she will be able to get used to it a bit quicker. Also, spending time having fun in the same pool as she has lessons in might make her feel more comfortable when you do have to leave her during lessons. Just a thought.