Whether it’s your child’s first or fiftieth lesson, nerves can still sometimes get the best of them; this is a completely natural process to go through, especially when learning a new skill like swimming.
Here are a few ideas for you to help ease your child’s anxiety when it comes to swimming:
Positive re-enforcement is a tried and tested winner. Parents have been doing it for what seems like eternity and there is good reason for that! Studies show that we react well to positive phrases, so the next time your child makes an improvement in their technique, let them know. Try using encouraging phrases such as “Good job!”, “That looked amazing, well done!” and if they are having a little bit of trouble getting the hang of something, let them know that that is OK too.
Sometimes all it takes is a bit of logic and reasoning. Explain to your little one what it is that they are going to be doing and you can also ask their teacher to go through it step by step at the start of the lesson. As the wise boy scouts say: Be prepared. Ideally, mental preparation will prevent them feeling like progression is not scary, but exciting!
Bring a familiar face:
Sometimes, something as small as bringing their favourite toy along to a lesson can greatly help with their nerves! It creates a sense of familiarity for your child which may help calm them down and focus on the task at hand. If the toy is waterproof, then maybe try popping it in the water with your child or if not then it can just cheer on from the sidelines!
Keep a packet of stickers in your bag for after their lesson or let them pick a new toy at the end of the term. Remember to try and only reward deserving behaviour – This doesn’t only apply to mastering a new stroke, a child who tries their best is just as deserving!
First things first, bribery is not the ideal solution. It usually occurs under a moment of duress for you whilst giving your child the top hand. Nonetheless, we are all only human and if used sparingly and appropriately, then the promise of a chocolate bar at the end can work wonders! (I know it does for me.)
These are just suggestions for you but remember to do whatever works best for your child! What helps one child may not benefit another so just try different approaches and know that the most important thing is to keep calm and carry on.