Learning must be fun. No parent or child should be subjected to a fearful or intimidating environment when learning to swim. Aggressively forcing children to perform learn to swim activities while they are crying and in distress is totally inappropriate.
However it is unrealistic to say that children never cry during swimming lessons. Infants communicate their needs and problems through crying. In some instances babies become tired, hungry or even cold during the swimming lesson. The astute parent will soon learn to recognise the different types of communicative cries given by their baby.
Once you recognise what is disturbing your baby it’s easier to remedy the problem. For example don’t swim during a time that you would normal be feeding your baby and always ensure you are teaching your baby to swim in warm water, ideally 32 degrees Celsius.
It is my belief that parents should try to relax and settle their child while in the baby swimming lesson. This should be done in a relaxed manner using, communication, stimulation and distraction. If you get out of the pool every time your baby cries, then baby will soon associate getting out of the pool with crying. Ideally infants should enter and leave the baby swimming lesson happy and relaxed.
As a swimming teacher it is you that is responsible to create a learning environment that is conducive to having a relaxed parent and in turn a relaxed baby. It is very important to understand that the parents’ state of being will certainly rub off on the child. So if mum is happy and relaxed then baby will be happy and relaxed.
Communication is the key to putting parents at ease in the water. Very often teachers forget to communicate vital information to parents. For example, teachers will forget to tell parents how they should hold their baby while in the pool.
The way parents hold their child in the water will certainly determine whether or not the baby will be relaxed. Parents must always be encourage to maintain eye contact with their baby, communicate positively through facial expressions and hold baby low in the water to give them an opportunity to feel their natural buoyancy.
Importantly always give parents good visual demonstrations and simple instructions when introducing new swimming activities. If you are introducing a new skill, do so at the beginning of the lesson, this way you can spend time with the parents clearly explaining what is required. Rushing will lead to anxious parents, and an uneasy parent equals an uneasy baby.
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