At Charlotte Aquatics we see thousands of children a year. Some run into the building with joy and excitement and some come in clinging to their parent, anxious about what swim lessons are all about. We want to let you know that having a child that is anxious or afraid is ok! After 22 years of instilling confidence and competence in our swimmers, we have worked through anxiety and fear with many children.
We know, as a parent, your child’s fear and tears pull on your heartstrings. Of course you love them and want to protect them and prevent them from suffering. However, some well-meaning parents can actually exacerbate their child’s anxiousness and/or fear. Here are a few tips as a parent that you can utilize if your child shows signs of anxiety/fear:
- The goal isn’t to eliminate anxiety, but to help a child manage it.
- Respect his/her feelings but don’t empower the fear.
It’s important to understand that validation does not mean agreement. If your child is afraid of swim lessons, you don’t want to belittle her fears but you don’t want to amplify them either. You want to listen and be empathetic, help her understand what she’s anxious about and encourage her to feel that she can face her fears. The message you want to send is, “I know you’re scared and that’s okay. I’m here and the instructor is here to help you through this.”
- Don’t reinforce your child’s fear
Make sure your tone and body language are not saying “Maybe this is something you should be afraid of.” Avoid repeating over and over again, “It’s ok –you’re ok.“ Review point #2.
- Try to keep the anticipatory period short
When we are afraid of something the hardest time is really before we do it. So another rule of thumb is to try to eliminate or reduce the anticipatory period. If you know your child is anxious about swim lessons, it’s probably best not to start talking about it the day before.
- Prepare your child if they have never had swim lessons
Talk about how fun swim lessons will be. Go on our website and show them their instructor’s picture. Go to our gallery and show them other swimmers and what our facility looks like.
- Let us do what we do best
Your child is not the first anxious child we have worked with and they won’t be the last! Our instructors are masters of distraction and caring. They will keep your child safe and help them manage their fears.