“How can I help my child stop crying in swim lessons?”

Crying is, by far, the biggest concern parents have regarding swim lessons.

My favorite quote from Becky Bailey (Conscious Discipline) is “What you focus on, you get more of”!

Think back to when you baby was learning to walk. Did you make a big fuss every time he toppled over or did you smile and encourage him to shake it off, get back up and try again 😍👍?

The same is true of swim lessons. We can subconsciously project our own fears and emotions onto our children and shape their attitudes and behaviors by the way we react to a situation.

If you hold him close before the lesson and repeatedly tell him “It’s ok, don’t cry, it will be over soon 😫”, etc and hold him closer every time he cries, he is going to to continue to cry to get that attention and response from you. If you look tense during the lesson and shout things like “Mommy is right here! It’s almost over”, etc, then that reinforces that swim lessons are something negative and scary. If you scoop him up as soon as he gets out and say things like “You’re ALL DONE 😭!, You don’t have to go back in today, It’s all over! Don’t cry 😢”, etc, etc, again, you are accidentally reinforcing the crying and a negative perception of lessons.

You are your child’s biggest cheerleader 🎉and he will be looking to you to see how to react to lessons. Remember that before starting lessons, most children are used to only playing in the water and not having to do any work. Learning to swim is hard work, but they are in good hands, they are safe and they are learning skills that can keep them safe and provide a lifetime of safely enjoying the water 🏊‍♀️!

So stay positive 😀👍before, during and after lessons and discuss any concerns away from your child. Before the lesson, give her a big hug and kiss 😘, tell her to have a great lesson, and hand her to your instructor .

Smile and cheer when she looks at you during the lesson and follow your instructor’s cues to reinforce what is being mastered. Ex: If your instructor says “Good job kicking your feet!”, or “Good job laying your head back in your float!”, cheer them on for these accomplishments! 🥳

When the lesson is over and your child is placed on his towel, copy your instructor and tell him he did a great job (opening his eyes under water, kicking, laying back in the float, or whatever he was working on), dry him off, get him dressed, get a sticker and go about your day 🙂

Verbally reinforce and focus on what is being learned during the lesson (and ignore the crying!), and that is what you’ll get more of! As skills are mastered, crying is replaced with smiles and feelings of accomplishment and soon enough, most kids are crying because they don’t want to get OUT of the pool! ❤️💦

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