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Swimming lesson Phobia

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
So I guess I just need some thoughts as to why this has happened, because I sure can't figure it out. This might get long because it's a wierd situation.

My daughter (3 years old) has been going to swimming lessons Monday thru Thursday for 4 weeks now. The first 2 weeks she did AWESOME. My MIL has been taking her, because it's "thier thing". One day, it was a wednesday, she had a spill under water, and the lifeguard didnt notice, and my MIL jumped in to get my daughter. She was fine. She said she liked it, and was happy she wasn't scared, she didnt choke or anything. So then, the next day she was fine as well, did amazing. Was becoming quite a waterbug. Forgot about the whole underwater ordeal.

So the next week, it was Monday. I went with. Just to see how things were going, and check it all out. The whole time, my daughter sat on the stair, and was deathly afraid of getting in the water. But this was the first time she had EVER been afraid. My MIL said she did a complete 180, and has never acted like that before. So the next day, I took my daughter swimming in our own pool, with floaties and the whole thing, and she still wouldnt get off the stair. She starts shaking when she gets even a smidgen close to deeper water. I've tried everything, she won't even let me hold her in deeper water. She gets all tense, and afraid.

Scince that Monday, I believe it's been 2 weeks scince my daughter has been off of the stair. MIL still takes her to the classes hoping she'll give in, and swim with the other kids. Yesterday they came back, and MIL said she's giving up, and she's not taking her again because all they do is watch the other kids, and why pay for that.

So, I just can't understand how ONE day, she's ready to go swimming in the water, and kick her feet, and float, and blow bubbles under water...But the next day, she's done with it, and deathly afraid of getting off that one stair with 3 inches of water on it. One would think it was because of the underwater ordeal, but the day after that, she was fine.

The other thing that could have happened, was the fact that I had gone with that one day when everything changed. Did I maybe screw up the "Nana and me swimming lesson" thing? But even then, how do you explain the terror of the water.

It's just odd. I had hoped she would like these classes. Swimming is an important thing to learn. Expecially in Florida, where there is water everywhere.
This comming up week, Monday, my SO is taking her. Which scares me a little bit, because he's more discipline. It'll be more like "get in the pool, or nothing."
And I can't go with, because I accepted a third shift job, and will be sleeping during the lessons. Otherwise, it'd be all me, but even then, I wouldnt know how to get her to be less afraid of the water.

Any suggestions? Thoughts?
post #2 of 13
If she's afraid, don't push her. Sounds to me like she had a delayed reaction to what happened to her. That's not uncommon. It's not your fault.

Drowning is a very scarey thing.

I had a horrid experience during swimming lessons when I was in grade 5. I don't know how it is where you live, but here, at least at that time, swimming lessons were part of our grade school education in grade 5.

I had never had swimming lessons before so they didn't know where to put me. They tried me in pre-beginners but I seemed to be more advanced, so they kept moving me up until I found myself in "intermediate" and on the otherside of the walkway in the deep end... 18 feet deep!

Things were going well, and I was even jumping off the platform and mid height diving boards, and I could swim 5 lengths of the pool.

However, to graduate from the class and advance to the next you had to tread water for 20 minutes. Something I never learned to do and wasn't taught in intermediate class. It was assumed that you were in that class and you should know how to do it from an earlier class.

Everytime I tried to tread water I sunk like a stone. I tried staying near the edge and sticking my toe in a hole in the wall, but the swim instructor noticed and kept telling me to get away from the wall. When I did, I sunk. So finally after I refused to leave the side of the pool she ordered me out of the pool and told me to go to the change room.

I was more than eager to do that!!!

I got out of the pool and my parents had taught me to never walk across someone's path, so I went to walk around behind her. She stepped back and blocked my way which forced me to walk in front of her.

As soon as I was in front of her she pushed me really hard and I went flying into the pool. I didn't even have a chance to catch my breath. I was quite gangly back then and weighed next to nothing, so when she pushed me I flew several feet.

All I can remember is struggling to get to the surface and seeing the lights all distorted above me and desperately needing to breathe. But each time I tried to get to the top, I went further down.

I remember finally taking a breath and how much it hurt, but that the second breath I took didn't hurt at all.

The next thing I remember is throwing up in some guys face. I spent almost 3 weeks in the hospital.

I've been afraid of water ever since. I prefer showers to baths. Water running over my face causes me to panic even if it's water from the shower. I have to use a wet cloth to wash my face because I can't splash water over my nose or mouth.

I have been swimming since, but only in water that is maybe waist high (any higher and I start to panic), and I can swim the front stroke or the back stroke and do the dog paddle, provided that my face remains out of the water...and so long as my feet touch the bottom if I stop swimming.

Drowning can be very traumatic, and trying to force her to do something that she is afraid of will only make it worse.

Let her hang out in the shallow end if she wants. If she doesn't want to do even then, then don't push her to do so.

One day she might over come her fear, but then again maybe she won't. Eitherway, let her decide when the time is right, if it will ever be the right time.
post #3 of 13
To me it sounds like the same thing that Natalie said, it sounds like a delayed reaction, or something else happened to her at swimming lessons.

I remember one time when my son was taking swimming lessons. The parents had to sit up on top of the lawn. The pool was down like a little hill.

Anyways I remember that there was a little boy who was scared to death to go underwater. The teacher picked up the little boy (who was screaming at the top of his lungs and crying) and told him to hold his breath, that he was going underwater. She then took the little boy and they went underwater. I was sitting next to the little boys mother, and the mother just sat there. I was so mad . I kept thinking to myself that I woulda marched down that hill, and got my child, and we woulda went home. And we woulda never went back either.

I hope your little girl gets over this, but don't push her to do something that she is afraid to do. She will have plenty of time for swimming lessons.
post #4 of 13
Maybe she had a dream about it and in the dream it was worse than it was in real life. That would explain the delayed reaction. I wouldn't push her. Maybe see how it goes for the next week or so, and if she still isn't getting in the water, put it off until next summer. Have you asked her why she won't get in the water now?

Honestly, I hate swimming. I love scuba diving, but then I have oxygen with me! When I was taking lessons when I was 7 or 8, we had to swim laps. No big deal, I was a strong swimmer except, at that time, I couldn't open my eyes to see where I was going....so I basically ended up swimming in circles forever. We started going across the pool at 4 ft, so we would be able to stand up if we got tired, but when I tried to put my feet down, I just sunk. The instructor had to jump in and pull me back up. Here, I had ended up in the deep end. Needless to say, that was the end of my lessons. I probably should have kept them up, but I was too embarrassed. That was just a scary experience. I knew how to tread water, but my legs were just too tired and wouldn't move. Now, I stay in the shallow end, if I get in a pool at all. Besides, I don't like subjecting poor innocent people to me in a bathing suit!
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by calico2222 View Post
Have you asked her why she won't get in the water now?
The answer to that when I ask her is "Because." Notice the period. It's just "Because." And that's that. She gets mad, and kind of embarrassed when others ask her about it.

I havent been pushing her, they said just to let her sit in the shallow part, untill she's ready. It's just so wierd though. Because she was so intent on learning how to swim, and was floating around for so long, and then poof, no more.

I suppose for now, I will just let it be. She did tell me she will swim in the "river", (that's what she calls the ocean), but never never in a pool. So, next weekend I plan on taking her to the beach, and checking that out. Because it might possibly just be a pool she's afraid of, and not just water in general. I wonder if there is swimming lessons in the "river".....
post #6 of 13
It prob is a reaction to what happened. How did you handle the news? One of my kids was afraid of the water so we bought a small swimming pool for our yard just a little kid one. That helped alot. We also went to the lake or a pool that is zero entry so they can go as far as they want.
post #7 of 13
I'd ask her if she wants to stop lessons for a while, and if yes, let it go for a couple of years. Keep giving her the opportunity to swim, though, but pushing to swim does not work. Nothing will turn a kid off of swimming faster.

She's not ready to continue for whatever reason.
post #8 of 13
Sometimes little kids don't have the words to explain what's going on in their minds, especially when it comes to fear. Three years old is so young... I'd just let it go, let her forget all about it for now.

And Natalie... please tell us that woman who shoved you into the pool was brought up on some kind of charge! Child endangerment, something? What an evil thing to do to a kid! I'm so sorry that happened to you.
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolPetunia View Post
And Natalie... please tell us that woman who shoved you into the pool was brought up on some kind of charge! Child endangerment, something? What an evil thing to do to a kid! I'm so sorry that happened to you.
It happened in the early 1970's so I don't remember, but I honestly don't think anything happened to her.

Back then it wasn't like today at all. Today she would have been charged with attempted manslaughter or reckless endagerment or something and lost her job for sure. TBH I don't think anything happened to her back then.
post #10 of 13
Leah, maybe you could go in the pool with her and hold her to make sure she is safe with you.

I think living in a country with so much water you need to get her to learn atleast to float, incase of emergencies.

I agree with the kiddie pool, heck i was swimming in one on the weekend at my parents house! They dont cost so much these days anyway
post #11 of 13
Okay, I'm going to have to go against everyone here! Let me preface this by saying I taught swimming lessons for 7 years. I had kids as young as 2 to as old as 16. Because I was supervisor, I got all the special needs kids, whether that meant ADHD, physical challanges, autism or WATER PHOBICS. Natalie, what happened to you was HORRIBLE, but that is an exceptional situation.

This kid needs to get back in the pool, even if it's kicking and screaming. I'd bet money it got scarier because mommy was there (that just happens with some kids, it's why we used to have a 2-way mirror where I worked), but whatever the reason, if you let her sit on the edge until SHE decides to go back in, you're reinforcing her feeling that there is something to be scared of. Then she won't go back in ever and she won't know how to swim. Which means, she'll be in danger around water for the rest of her life, as well as all the embarassment that goes along with being a teen and not being able to go to pool parties etc.

I'm not saying you should throw her in. What that woman did to Natalie was criminal and obviously completely destructive. She needs someone (your SO, a teacher, whatever, someone competent) to pick her up and carry her around. Play games, throw toys, squirt water and splash. Chances are good she's just going to scream for the first lesson at least, but I've had kids that did that for many lessons and came out fine. They have to stay in with me. Trick is to get them talking, don't do anything "swimmy" like jumping or dunking, just play with toys, sing songs, do whatever until she joins. Use her hands to do dog paddle arms, big arms. At the end, make a BIG DEAL about it and give a sticker for something.....a sticker every lesson and a sheet to put it on for the fridge. I've had kids that scream and cry the whole lesson, then get out and go "Look Mommy, my big arms sticker! Didn't I do good?!" with a big smile. That's not uncommon.

The lesson should be short, though, about 15 mins. And whoever took her should either be the one holding her or not in sight, because if she sees him/her on the side, she'll be reaching for him/her the whole time.

I know to some of you this sounds cruel, but it's not. The kid is not in danger. If threw the kid back in on her own, that would be cruel. But if you let the kid decide when she is going back, I guarantee you're going to have a water phobic kid for years to come. Right now she's only 3, she can get past this. It is WAY harder to deal with 8 yr olds whose moms have given them "time off" swimming lessons because they were scared.

My bf had a bad experience as a toddler and they decided to let him decide when to go swimming. He's 25 and can't swim at all. He won't even take baths. He finds it horribly embarassing and we've been working on it because he trusts me, but up until last year, he wouldn't go in a pool. Is that worth it to spare your kid a few tears??
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by LSULOVER View Post
I remember one time when my son was taking swimming lessons. The parents had to sit up on top of the lawn. The pool was down like a little hill.

Anyways I remember that there was a little boy who was scared to death to go underwater. The teacher picked up the little boy (who was screaming at the top of his lungs and crying) and told him to hold his breath, that he was going underwater. She then took the little boy and they went underwater. I was sitting next to the little boys mother, and the mother just sat there. I was so mad . I kept thinking to myself that I woulda marched down that hill, and got my child, and we woulda went home. And we woulda never went back either.
I've done that about a million times. I ALWAYS talk to the parents first to see what they want. Probably that had happened with that mom. I won't dunk your kid unless you agree prior. And I warn that they'll cry, because I could tell who would and who wouldn't. Honestly, it's not as traumatic as you think, especially at toddler age. I'd say at least half of toddlers cry after the first dunk, because it's new, and are happily dunking themselves by the end of 8 lessons. But a good teacher will know how to keep that kid calm throughout and teach them to enjoy the experience, once they get over the "unknown" of it.

How could that little boy get over his fear of being underwater if he never did it? Letting him sit out shows him he's right to be afraid. If you kid was scared of sand but had never actually been to the beach, would you just wait until he decided that he wanted to go? Or would you take him and show him that the sand won't hurt him?
post #13 of 13
i really didn't like swimming lessons when i was a kid. my instructor was what i considered "mean" (but keep in mind i was a kid). i had a few close calls in the pool. my mom knew i hated it, but made me take the lessons. what i did get out of it was that i will never be a champion swimmer (i still don't like to be in more than 6 ft of water) but i can float, i can doggie paddle, and i can tread water. all are important survival skills.

i can't say if you should keep her in them or not, i just thought i would pass on my experience.
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