By Amanda Macchia- NJAC Swim Mom
We’ve all been there: we see our child crying tears of fear or frustration, and someone pushing them to do something they don’t want to do, and every fiber of our being wants to do anything to make it stop, to make our child feel happy and safe. It’s not just in the pool… it’s everywhere in everyday life!
This swim mom/aunt brings three kids to class each week:
Tori started swimming with NJAC at 17 months old. The love of the water was instant! The separation from Momma to go with the instructor took a little longer. But then next thing I knew she was 3 years old and didn’t want me in the pool anymore. Now she’s almost 5, and can swim on her own, but has entered an overly cautious phase of tears and sometimes an unwillingness to participate. Her current teacher instills trust while pushing her through, and her confidence is returning.
15 months later, at 18 months old, Isaiah joined in. The hardest part has been keeping him sitting still when it’s not his turn. To the best of my recollection, he has never shed a tear. He’s now 3 and a half, and can swim the length of the pool, jumps with gusto, and is starting to dive!
3 months later, my niece, Sonya, joined us as well. She was already two and half, and has run the gauntlet of emotions toward swimming. I don’t remember the order of all the phases she went through, but there have been tears, tantrums, and times when we really started to wonder if it was worth it. Through consistency, gentle pushing, instilling trust, and playing to her strengths, guess what: she’s now the only one of the three who can float on her back independently! And just last week she decided that jumping in is fun too!
Over the years, each of the girls have had their moments where I just wanted to say (read “scream”) “NO” to the teacher or pull them out of the pool. Each time, I’ve had to have an internal conversation with Mamabear, and remind that part of me that the system works. And it DOES work. If we don’t let others push our kids at this age, in the pool, in school, in life, they’ll never go anywhere. We all want our kids to have the skills to remain afloat (literally and figuratively), but they don’t get there without tough lessons.
That said, if you have a concern about your child’s fear or frustration, talk to Leighann about it (I recommend online, not in front of your kids). She’s been there, she’s watched her own kids and hundreds of others go through these phases. In most cases, she’ll give you the confidence to silence Mamabear and keep pushing your child. Or maybe, like us, (just one time) you decide that it’s not a great student-teacher fit (that’s only happened to one of these three kids once, by the way) and you end up asking the teacher to work on confidence instead of pushing for skills for that particular session. But, if you do that, you have to go back to letting them be pushed in the next session.
They all get there eventually, but not without pushing!