So you’ve enrolled your infant in swimming lessons, and are heading to your first class with excitement. All seems to be going well, until suddenly - your child breaks down in a mixture of tears and shrieks and you are unsure of how to handle such tantrums. It’s only natural, as the parent, to be self-conscious in a moment like this, and worry about what the other parents (and the instructor) are thinking about you and your baby when this happens.
But please remember that this type of event has happened (or will happen) to every single parent of young children. Whether it’s the fit of a three-month-old, or the tantrum of a three-year-old, it’s nothing to be ashamed about. Other parents are usually extremely sympathetic to such situations, and your instructor will likely have seen it all before. Here are a few tips to helping prevent (or get through) a little one’s meltdowns in baby swim lessons.
If you have an infant, try to familiarize them with water long before starting baby swimming lessons. You can do this by making bathtime fun and getting them used to little splashes and some trickles of water on their head. If you have a toddler or older child, you can prepare them by reading a few books about swimming that let them know it will be exciting and fun.
It’s also smart to set expectations about what will happen in the class, and what behavior you expect from them. You can ask them if they have any questions, so you give them a chance to talk about what’s going through their minds too. Lastly, consider taking your child to watch a class once before they actually start lessons so they can see the types of activities they’ll be doing. Change and a new environment can be hard for kids to deal with, and all of this can help prepare your little one for a smoother transition into stress-free swimming.
Label Emotions and Avoid Planting Seeds
When your child experiences upset in some form or another, it can be tempting to do whatever you can to just get them to stop. But it’s often helpful to label what you see them doing with their body and the emotion you think they might be feeling. This gives them the right words to use about their feelings and helps them process their big emotions. Try saying something like, “I see your legs are kicking and your face is scrunched up. It looks like you are mad!” You probably won’t get a response from them, but this type of reaction will allow your child to feel validated and possibly even start to de-escalate.
The one thing you want to be aware of, though, is avoiding giving them “reasons” for their behavior that they’ll latch onto. Don’t say, “You must be scared of how deep the water is!” or “The cold water is making you cry, isn’t it?” This kind of talk will give your little one a new thought that they may not have had before, and can actually cause them to form new fears.
Go with your Gut
We care a great deal about your child’s wellbeing. So, the best baby care tips we can give are to comfort your child however you see fit, as you always know your child best. If you can’t hold and shush your little one enough in the pool to stop the hysteria, you can always let the teacher know you’ll be taking a quick break. Then, step away and soothe your child. If you’re able to get them calm before class is over, bring your child right back to class and finish up with everyone else. And if not, try again next week.
No matter what happens, don’t worry about judgment from anyone else. Just focus on comforting your child and getting them back into the activities as soon as possible. We’re all rooting for you and your little one to have success with swimming (and to enjoy it!), so we’ll support you in getting through whatever mood swing your little one goes through. Take a deep breath - you’ve got this!
Contact us anytime if you’d like to learn more about our swim programs.