I’ll be the first to admit it – I’m a total helicopter parent. I’m constantly concerned about my kids’ safety, which is why I was so relieved when we started swim lessons for both of them at Goldfish Swim School. However, then my fear of my kids not knowing how to swim was taken over by a fear of swim class itself.
Not only was I afraid of starting swim class, but my son was, too. The first week, he wouldn’t even get in the water. He sat on my husband’s lap, and watched as his little sister and I participated in the baby class. Jackson was screaming, scared to death. I couldn’t blame him. How could we put our trust in his swim instructor? A stranger. Someone we didn’t know anything about. So we let Jack sit that first week out. But I knew we couldn’t let that become a habit…
We’re now over 3 months into swim lessons. Jackson is becoming more and more confident in the water as each week goes by.
How did we get here? How did we get over our fear of swim class?
open family swim
After the initial failed swim lesson, one of the managers at Goldfish suggested we go to open swim as a family. So a few days later, we did. Jack was still hesitant about getting in the pool, even with us. To make all of us more comfortable at first, we put a lifejacket on him. My husband and I took turns swimming with Jackson. By the end of open swim, the life jacket had come off, and we could hardly get him out of the pool.
Talk About the Teacher
Once we learned Jackson’s swim instructor’s name, we tried to talk about him as much as possible. You know, make him less scary. We also pointed out that he looks a lot like his uncle. This seemed to help a lot. By the next week, Jack was excited to go to swim class and play with his new teacher.
I may, or not, bribe my kid to do things he doesn’t want to do. Okay okay, I totally bribe my kid to do the things he doesn’t want to do. I don’t think that makes me a bad parent, I think it makes me savvy (ha!). Lucky for me, Goldfish is also all about the positive reinforcement. Each week the students are presented with some sort of prize; everything from stickers to small toys. The children are also awarded ribbons for reaching different milestones in class. In addition to the incentives the school provides, I’ve also been known to use ice cream to my advantage.
Face My Own Fears
I’m a strong believer that kids easily pick up on our emotions and anxiety. So when I was having fears about Jackson’s first swim lesson, it’s no surprise that he was sharing the same feelings. For me, it’s always scary to put my kid’s life in someone else’s hands. But when I looked around the pool, I counted 6 lifeguards on deck, and alert instructors in every class. Plus, I was right there watching his every move. If there was ever a safe place for my kid to be, this was it.
Have your kids taken swim lessons? Were they afraid at first?