My son is panicking about learning to swim. Help?
July 11, 2014 12:44 PM Subscribe
My kids are going to a day camp for the first time this summer. They're scheduled to swim twice a day, but my son has been refusing to go into the pool and panicking when the counselors try to encourage him into the water. How can we convince him the pool is fun, safe and comfortable?
posted by zarq to Human Relations (43 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My six year old son is in his second week at day camp. The first couple of days at the pool went well. He dipped his feet and legs in the water, wore floaties and clung to the wall and ladder and splashed around. No big deal.
Last Thursday he apparently began refusing to go into the pool. Then, that evening after coming home from camp, he completely freaked out and started crying when it was time to take his shower. It was bad: he was clinging to sink, trying to prevent us from picking him up and putting him in the tub. and kept yelling he didn't want to get his face wet. We assumed he was tired and let it slide.
Well, now it's been a week. He freaks out, cries and screams "NO! NO!" each time he needs to take a shower. (We have been very gently insistent, coaxing him into the tub and calming him down so he can bathe properly.) At camp, each time the counselors try to coax him into the pool, he refuses. We can't figure out why. All he'll tell us and them is that he doesn't want to get his face wet. He's always been sensitive to that -- likes to keep a washcloth near him when he showers, in case water or shampoo drips into his eyes. Doesn't like having strong wind blow in his face. We thought that was a minor idiosyncrasy, and not enough of a problem to be worth addressing.
So, according to both him and the camp, nothing seems to have triggered this behaviour. He's spending an hour or two each day sitting on the sidelines, watching all his friends play in the pool, and we'd like to work with him to increase his comfort level and join them. I would happily take him to a local pool this weekend or in the evenings after work next week, to help get him used to it. But how, if he won't even go in the water?
I suppose it's worth mentioning that we'd like to resolve this situation gently and in as untraumatic a way as possible. One of my friends suggested just tossing him into the shallow end so he'd realize the water couldn't harm him. That won't be happening, so please don't suggest it. Other than that, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks very much in advance.