Molly was only 6 weeks old when I took her swimming for the first time. She loved it. We went swimming often because of how much she enjoyed it. She was a real water baby. I thought it would be a good idea for her to have swimming lessons but the local pool didn’t offer lessons to those under two and a half. I put Molly’s name on the waiting list so she could start having lessons as soon as she was old enough.
Molly always loved splashing around in the swimming pool. She loved splashing around in the bath. Whenever the paddling pool came out she would dive right in.
We went on holiday to Lanzarote last year and Molly absolutely loved the pool. There was a kid’s splash pool which she wanted to play in all the time. We could be walking past the pool in the morning on the way to breakfast and she would excitedly ask if we could go swimming. She even loved going in the main swimming pool and that was bordering on freezing! The cold didn’t bother her. She would jump straight in with Daddy and have a ball, only wanting to get out when she was tired or hungry. Water baby all the way!
However, a few months ago I started noticing that Molly wasn’t having as much fun in the swimming pool as usual. Suddenly she didn’t like the water going in her face and wouldn’t lie back in the water. She wouldn’t sit on a big float and she would scream if I even suggested she might like to jump in. The only thing she would do was cling to me and let out a terrified yell if I dared to let go.
We had always taken her swimming in a swimming vest and had never had any problems. When she started to get panicky in the water I bought some armbands for her to see if she preferred them. They didn’t help at all. In fact, she only liked the armbands because her cousin wore armbands. What happened to my water baby?
I’m not quite sure what changed or when, but she appeared to have shifted from water baby to cry baby. I definitely didn’t foresee a problem when I put her name on the waiting list for swimming lessons.
She still loves bath time. The last time it was warm enough to get the paddling pool out she still loved playing in that. I really do not know why she doesn’t like swimming anymore. Maybe because the water is deep in the swimming pool? Though this hadn’t usually bothered her.
In January, I received a phone call from the local sports centre about Molly starting swimming lessons. I had to tell them I would get back to them about whether or not she would be attending.
On the one hand I wanted to send Molly for lessons because she needs to know how to swim, and because regular lessons may have encouraged her to regain her confidence in the water. On the other hand, I wondered if swimming lessons would be a waste of time. What is the point in paying for lessons if she is just going to cling to the instructor the entire time?
If I mention going swimming Molly gets really excited and runs to her bedroom to get her swimming costume. As we approach the sports centre she points the building out enthusiastically. Once inside the sports centre she cannot wait to get her swimming costume and armbands on. We practically run to the pool because she is so eager to get in the water. She loves the thought of swimming.
We happily stroll down the steps into the water together. Then it gets deeper and she clings to me for dear life. She will not let go. She looks terrified and physically shakes at the prospect of me letting her go. I am completely stumped about this fear she has developed.
Shallow water = ok Deep water = no go zone
When I say this the obvious problem seems to be that she doesn’t like deep water. I can understand that. But what I don’t understand is why she suddenly developed a fear when it was never an issue.
There haven’t been any incidents which may have caused Molly to be scared in the water. And if there had been, surely she wouldn’t be excited at the thought of going swimming. I really do not know what to do to ease her fear. I took her swimming the other day and we were in the water for 8 minutes. About 5 of those minutes Molly was sat on the side of the pool. It hardly seems worth going. The only saving grace is that we do not pay to go swimming as it is included in my gym membership.
For now, Molly’s swimming lessons are on hold but hopefully not for too long. I am going to take her swimming at least once a week to try and ease her fear, though it hasn’t worked so far. I feel I have to persist though for her sake. Or maybe I should avoid swimming with her altogether until she gets older and can decide for herself if she wants to have lessons.
Has anyone ever experienced anything like this? How did your child get over their fear? Does anybody have any tips I can try? Should I just bite the bullet and send her to swimming lessons?
You can also find me blogging at Serenely Sam