Last year I decided to sign my toddler up for swimming lessons. She was excited at first, sporting her brand new Hello Kitty swim suit and Crocs as she happily skipped into the pool area with a stranger. I assured her I would be just a few feet away, and watched as her instructor charmed her into trusting him to care for her while she was in the water. It was the first time I trusted anyone with my baby, but I was confident that this would be a great experience for her. For the next 3 weeks, I would hand her off to this instructor, who other parents in the facility swore to be the best. Then, one day, my toddler had a bad experience. On our drive over to the swimming school, she became car sick and vomited. We decided to keep on with her lesson, cleaned her off, and sent her on her way. BIG MISTAKE. I should have taken her home, because what happened that day would ruin a seemingly good relationship between her and her instructor. A relationship that took weeks to build and wasn’t quite solid yet. My toddler was not cooperating, and refused to do as the instructor requested. Instead of going with her flow that day, after I explained to him that she was having a bad day, he lost his patience and dunked her underwater during a tantrum she was throwing in defiance. This is not how you treat an almost 3 year old, and if you don’t have patience with children, you shouldn’t be working with them. And yes, I speak from experience – I was a middle school teacher.
I bet you know what happens next.. She never wanted to go back to swimming again. Can you blame her? Trust turned to fear. We tried switching her instructor, bribing her, you name it – she wasn’t getting back in that water. I was, and still am, completely outraged that one of the most important lessons my child should learn in her life has been damaged, and I’m hoping she will outgrow this fear of water now. She still mentions her experience during bath time sometimes, and each time I try to think of creative ways to replace those bad memories with better ones.
I’m determined, and this summer I plan on teaching my toddler how to swim. Not only will it give her confidence in the water, but I think it is important that she learns how to save herself if she happened to fall into a pool, or pulled in by a current at the beach. Since May 18th is National Learn to Swim Day, I think this is a better time than ever to think about the steps I will take to get her back in the water. Since my family has signed up to be a Swimways Swim Team Ambassador, we will be provided with the necessary equipment to take on this feat.
I will be updating with our progress on teaching both my girls how to swim. Even though my youngest is only 1, I think now is a great time to get her in the water before she develops fear. How old was your child when they learned to swim?
Disclosure: I am a Swimways Ambassador. I will be provided with products throughout the campaign to try out with my family.