Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Helping Chickie learn to swim.... This is one area in which I feel like I've failed. She's never had lots of pool time, and she has quite a bit of fear when we do go to a pool. She's brave enough now that with water wings plus a donut-style floatie, she'll float around without someone holding her. But holding her breath and bobbing her head under the water is out of the question.

Several weeks ago I signed her up for swim lessons. Today I checked to see when the lessons would be starting.... and groaned when I saw the date "7/12." So she's missed her first two lessons. Aargh! I'll bring her tonight, and she'll get the last six lessons of the two-week class.

I was talking to a neighbor recently, and she told me her son had also been afraid of swimming. They'd signed him up for swim lessons when he was about Chickie's age, and he was still so afraid that they'd only gone to a couple of lessons. That should have discouraged me, but what she said next encouraged me instead.

"This summer," she said, "he just got over the fear." He's six. He just needed some time to outgrow that fear.

That makes sense to me. Chickie has had plenty of irrational fears. She always gets over them eventually. I need to remember that her current fears of swimming and spiders will probably eventually go away, just like her old fears of taking baths and pooping!

So I hope the swim lessons "work" by helping her be more comfortable in the water. But if the fear remains, we'll just continue to be extra-cautious with her in the pool. I'll remind myself that she'll probably decide she loves water before too long, without me having to do anything but let her grow up. I think this is one of those areas in which I need to relax and be patient, letting my daughter be who she is, and letting her grow at her own pace.

Maybe I should have put her in swim lessons earlier. It might have made a huge difference. might not have. Either way, in the long run I think she'll be just fine. So I'm going to try to cut myself a little slack on this one, and to cut Chickie some slack too.


Bri said...

I never put any of my kids in swim lessons. Lexi and Jacob both learned to swim in 1st grade when they attended a summer program. Kadie is still sorta self learning and she will start 1st grade in the fall. Adam and Sara swim independently in their life jackets but have always been a little afraid for me to let them go until this summer when they both swam all around my friend's pool for hours and even Adam jumped in my sister's pool with NO life jacket on. Talk about brave. She will eventually realize that she can keep herself from going under when she doesn't want to and grow to like the water. And if not... don't feel like a failure. All kids are different and you wouldn't want your mom disappointed in herself if you didn't like heights or snakes.

BTW: I think you meant 7/12 and not 8/12 :)

C. Beth said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, Bri!! It's encouraging to me!

I was hoping no one had caught that date mistake before I edited it! :-)

Kara said...

Hearing from Bri and your neighbor make me feel so much better! Abby has never had formal swim lessons until this summer, when they came as part of day camp. She told me after the first 2 or 3 lessons that she is too scared of the water to learn how to swim. Sigh. I know I had a big fear of swimming until I was about 5 or 6, so I hope she outgrows it like I did, and like others have!

Call Me Cate said...

I had pool access early on (my grandparents had a nice in-ground pool) and as a result I spent my childhood as a fish. I still really like the water but don't have access often. I guess because I was exposed at such an early age, it never occurred to me that it should be scary.

I'm sure she'll be just like your neighbor said. Just like she was with potty training. You're putting down a good foundation for her and one day she'll just be okay with it.

Dan & Hillary said...

I put Russell in swim classes just after his 4th b-day. I think this is the perfect time. The 3's are too young (a lot of kids have hard time following instruction) and the 6's are almost too old (they can tell that the water is deep and besides, they're a lot louder when they cry!).

You're a great mom!! She'll be duckin' around in no time... then you can save the $$$ and have her teach E;-)

Traci said...

It really is a matter of exposure. The more she is in the water, the less she will fear it. Skyler has been in mommy and me lessons for 2 summers and was sooo scared still. Then when this summer rolled around we practiced in a few friends pools and now she has so much more confidence. She still can't swim, but she feels better. We have her in a life jacket when she's just playing, but when we are in with her we take it off so she has nothing on. We are always holding her but getting her exposed to less and less of us holding her. She'll get it eventually. She has so much less fear. Courtney on the other hand never had fear and is now swimming like a champ and I don't have to worry about her being alone in the water anymore. I can't wait for Sky to be in the same place. Maybe in 1 or 2 summers worth of swimming. Just keep trying.

SurvivorBlessing said...

Sorry for you. That is a bummer. Kids are suppose to love the water! And what kid doesn't like a pool. I would have as a kid. Hope she outgrows that fast! Pools are cool and so refreshing these days when it is so unbearable hot!!!

I had Coqui in swim lessons at 18 months and he loved it. He always loved the bath, so I figured he might..... anyway! When he saw grandpa's BIG pool at age 3 (He had seen it before but I guess it hadn't stuck in the memory!) - he said he was 'scared'. That was puzzling to me as he always loved the water. So I figured throw him in to get over that fear.... and it worked. Within days he was barely to come out of the water, swam in his swim vest around the pool, figured out how to move his feet and arms eventually. And this year, he was so tall already that he could stand in the lower part without vest! Yippy....
Peanut on the other hand has shown how to move swim style already - she is just like her aunt, a fish!!! I will have to put her in swim lessons soon, maybe sometime in the fall when she about 15 months old. I know she'll like it. She doesn't even mind being duck under water from the big kids.....