We made sure and enrolled my son into swimming lessons as soon as we could and told them to be on alert because he had absolutely no fear and no sense when it came to water. They said that he was a natural swimmer and he learned pretty quickly but there were still times he would do his best to swim across the pool and get really tired about mid swim and just sink to the bottom! Until he got a bit older and a bit wiser we were on constant watch. Diving off the diving board was nothing for him, in fact he was ready to go to the neighborhood pool and take a turn off the super duper high dive. As a responsible parent of course I said no! I knew that the first time he was able to go to the pool without me (many years later) he would be jumping off that high dive.
It was hard on me when both my children began swimming because of my fear of pretty much all things water. I was afraid for my girl because I knew the fear and how it can grip you and for my boy because he was totally without fear. I was able to make up for his lack of fear with mine. I did my best to try and not show it and also to keep my mom away while they were learning to swim. Every time one of my children would get near the water she would panic and once when we went to visit my uncle on the lake she tied a rope around their waists! I believe in being protective, especially around water, but come on mom! But I suppose if I was not able to swim at all I would be doing the same thing.
I received a call the other day from my cousin who has a five year old girl who is exactly like my girl was. She had just enrolled her in swimming classes now because the little girl did not want to go before this. She was getting invited to pool parties and told her mom she wanted to go learn how to swim now. The first lesson she ended up in the restroom crying because all the other kids in her class were like two and three years old and she felt like a baby. The instructors tried to help by telling her that she could help the younger children not feel so afraid. She still refused to get her face wet and her mother was feeling a bit overwhelmed when she called and asked for prayer and advice.
I told her to just keep on trying I told her and not give up. In my case I had to leave and trust the instructors to take good care of my girl because I realized I was the one that enabled her to give up. Sharing her fears as I did made it easier for her to play on my emotions. I told them that all I wanted to do was make sure she did not drown; I was not looking for them to make her an Olympic gold medal winner in the swimming competitions! I did not leave completely however, I watched them through a few sessions from afar and made sure they were kind and she was comfortable. She is happy today that she knows how to swim and can join in at pool parties (in the shallow end of course).
It is very important that all children learn how to swim as early as possible. I did not do the infant swimming because quite frankly I was terrified at the thought. It may very well be the best way but it horrifies me when I see those little babies in the water. If you do not have a fear of water then maybe that is the way to go for your children. We waited until they were three or four and put them into lessons which seemed to work out pretty good. I really do not think that starting my girl as a baby would have helped her be any less afraid but it might have helped my son because he was going to swim no matter what!
The most important thing is their safety and finding the best qualified and reputable instructors to train and protect your children. They need to be strong yet compassionate, a nice balance with the ability to train any type of child. Everyone needs to know how to swim in our world today because there are so many different water activities outside of lakes and the ocean unlike the earlier years. So many people have pools and there are so many neighborhood man-made lakes that it is imperative that children know how to swim. The best way to keep our children safe is through the proper training at an early age.
Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a graduate from Iowa State University and currently writes for www.babysitting.net. She welcomes questions/comments which can be sent to rachelthomas.author @ gmail.com.