Swimming lessons ~ Conquering the fears

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My daughter has been afraid of water since the day she was born.  I don’t know what caused it.  Children begin their existance floating in a bubble of water for 9 months…you would think being put back in it wouldn’t be a problem.  I wonder sometimes if the maternity nurses who bathed her on her first day of life did something wrong.  You would assume they know what they are doing, but the moment they put her in the water, she screamed…and she didn’t stop until it was all over.  Both nurses – who had been in the maternity ward for several years each – said they had never had a baby scream so loud and so long over a bath.  My mother came to stay with me for two weeks when I had my baby.  (Yep, good ol’ mom – definately there when you need her!)  She’d had three children, and Kiki was her 6th grandchild.  She’s had a bit of experience in the baby-bathing area.  She told me not to worry, that all babies love baths, and we’d have her cooing in no time.  Ha.  Each and every bath went the same – screaming, red-faced, stiff muscled, shaking.  At the end of the two weeks, mom just shook her head and said "well, that’s just…really strange."   And on it continued.  By the time Kiki was old enough to sit up, she decided it was okay to be in the water…as long as you didn’t try to lay her back and wash her hair!  That put her right back to the screaming and shaking.  Thank the Lord, Kiki was bald until she was two, so I just let her sit in the tub, and afterwards I would wipe her head with a baby wipe.  When her hair grew it became increasingly difficult.  She was fine if she could just have a "play bath" as she called them…but if hair washing was involved, look out.  I usually had to do it with Alan there as well, as it took both of us to pull it off.  She absolutely hates having water in her ears or on her face.  She mostly takes showers now, yet even at that, a towel has to be hanging right outside the curtain, and she wipes her face off anytime water drips are on it.  If she doesn’t have a towel, she’ll panic.  You’d think it was acid on her or something!  Of course, all her cousins are now little fishes, and Kiki is the only one standing in the shallow end while they jump in, swim, go down the water slides, whatever.  Last spring we put her thru two sessions of swim lessons.  She didn’t do very well.  She tried, but it’s hard to swim if you won’t let water be on your face!  For awhile now, Alan has been on me to get her in some more lessons.  He really worries that she’ll start facing embarassment for not being able to swim.  I’ve known he’s right, but it’s hard, as the mom, to force your child to do something that you know scares the waddin’ out of them.   Well, I finally found a new instructor, and we decided to go with some private lessons… basically because most children at her level of ability are going to be 4 – 5  year olds, and again, we didn’t want her to be embarassed.  Today was her first lesson – she did so great!!  The teacher said she had expected way less out of Kiki from what I’d told her – I had to tell her that I was every bit as surprised as she was!   There was definately a bit of face-wiping going on, but the instructor gently told Kiki she just needed to ignore it and let it drip off, and for the most part, she did.  By the end of the lesson,  Kiki was swimming by herself across the deep end, going underwater in the deep end, and even jumped off the diving board!  For my little girl, this is huge.  There is still a little bit of trepidation, but I could tell she really wanted to do it, and this instructor was so great – she was Kiki’s little cheerleader, and Kiki really liked her and felt comfortable with her, and I suppose that made a great difference as well.  She has another lesson on Wednesday, and we may do next week as well.  Then I may be able to put her in a class with other kids…I just want to let her keep working at it until I know she can go in a pool without me worrying that she’ll panic.  I mean, she thinks she is fine already now, but you know how it is at a community pool or water park, with the splashing and waves and all, and I want to be sure she is confident enough that even if she did get dunked or pushed or a gulp of water, that she’ll just pop up and get right back to it.  For the first time ever, I feel like that might be within her grasp.  I am so excited for her!   
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12 responses »

  1. That IS exciting!  It is just something about having Mom around… they know we feel for them whether we show it or not!  I\’m convinced my son could probably do loads better in some things, quicker, if he attended a boarding school or something! 🙂  Not going to happen, but still.
     

  2. Yeah, Kiki!!! That is so awesome 🙂 She must be so proud of herself, facing that fear & moving past it- I know both of you will feel better when she\’s gained that confidence.

  3. It really is amazing the things we and children can overcome.
    Thank you for allowing me to visit and saying hello on my space, Greg
     

  4. Good going with Kiki.  Frankly, I am in agreement with her when it comes to getting wet.  In and out of the shower as fast as possible!  You are good parents.  I think treading water lessons would have been enough!  Only kidding, gail

  5. Doing some blogwalking today via Meg\’s and boy, did your blog bring back some memories.  My 19 yr old daughter, Colleen, hated baths too when she was a baby.  Not to worry though.  She became a district qualifier in the 500 yard freestyle (long distance – 20 laps) in high school!  Don\’t know where that skill came from…I\’ve often said I could drown in the shower if I tilt my head just right…or wrong should I say. haha  Good job Kiki!

  6. I am so happy that she was able to do that!  It is hard to conquer fear, but usually fear is just that, fear.  It stops us from so much and it almost never has a real basis.  Hopefully she\’ll learn to love and enjoy water very soon!
     
    Take care,
    Amy

  7. Way to go Kiki!!!  I\’m pretty impressed that she was able to swim in the deep end already!!!  Sounds like she is well on her way to being an honorary fish! 
     
    I hope your week is going well… I haven\’t had time to blog walk in a few days so I\’m catching up as well. 
     
    Thanks for your kind comments on my blog the other day.  I certainly feel encouraged and uplifted when friends like you have words that edify.  I thank God for you!!
     
    Take care,
    B

  8. Way to go Kiki!!!  I\’m pretty impressed that she was able to swim in the deep end already!!!  Sounds like she is well on her way to being an honorary fish! 
     
    I hope your week is going well… I haven\’t had time to blog walk in a few days so I\’m catching up as well. 
     
    Thanks for your kind comments on my blog the other day.  I certainly feel encouraged and uplifted when friends like you have words that edify.  I thank God for you!!
     
    Take care,
    B

  9. Way to go Kiki!!!  I\’m pretty impressed that she was able to swim in the deep end already!!!  Sounds like she is well on her way to being an honorary fish! 
     
    I hope your week is going well… I haven\’t had time to blog walk in a few days so I\’m catching up as well. 
     
    Thanks for your kind comments on my blog the other day.  I certainly feel encouraged and uplifted when friends like you have words that edify.  I thank God for you!!
     
    Take care,
    B

  10. How wonderful!  I\’m sure she was so proud of herself.  You are such a good mom. 
     
    I hope your week is going well 🙂
     
    Kiki

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