5 Reasons Children Regress In Swim Class
By Quinn Carr
If you’ve ever sat on the pool deck while classes are going on I’m pretty sure you have observed like I have when a child who seemingly was progressing through the various stages of our program all of a sudden is afraid of the water. Often the child starts to cry or maybe exhibits fear of putting their head or even getting into the water. You may think to yourself two months down the drain. So what happened? Well, my friend its called regression and unfortunately it’s common with children learning to swim. When a child regresses there’s never one thing that we can pinpoint to say that’s the reason why the child has regressed and taken a couple of steps back from learning. Often it can be a life-changing event, something maybe they saw on television, or it could simply be they’ve had a bad week and just don’t feel like swimming. But you would be surprised to know that there are specific reasons why a child may experience regression after excelling through the program for many weeks and months. And yes often when you see your child regress after so much progress its natural for a parent to fill frustrated and at a loss. However, I want you to know that our certified instructors are trained to deal with regression and ensure that a child who was once progressing gets back on solid footing.
So what can cause a child to regress in such a short time?
1. The loss of confidence
As an avid football fan “Go, Cowboys!” I’m sure that like me you’ve observed your favorite wide receiver on Sunday running up and down the field catching deep balls from the quarterback scoring touchdowns over and over again. At times your favorite wide receiver looks unstoppable and you have grand visions of your team going to the Super Bowl. But, then all of a sudden your favorite wide receiver starts to drop balls, they no longer know how to run routes correctly, and no there no longer scoring touchdowns. What happened? It’s common for professional athletes when they are not performing up to their standards its because they lose their confidence. We’ve all had moments in our life when we maybe doubted our ability from time to time/ Could be at work or playing basketball with our friends it’s a common occurrence. But, guess what children are no different, they lose their confidence all the time and to be honest their confidence especially in younger children is more fragile than adults. We don’t specifically know why children often lose their confidence it could be a problem at school, maybe they had a fight with their siblings, or they had an accident that embarrasses them. We found that simple things like these can hurt a child’s confidence. One moment they’re jumping in the water laughing and having fun the next moment they won’t even come close to the pool’s edge. So what’s the solution? If you notice that your child is having confidence issues have them do an exercise at home. Have them draw a picture or do an activity, and when they’re done be sure to offer encouragement and let them know how good of a job they’ve done. Often when a child is afraid to jump into the water our instructors provide encouragement and heaps praise onto them and lets them know that they did a great job. A little praise goes a long way.
2. A Change In Routine
We are all creatures of habit, I myself wake up every morning at 9 AM and have a cup coffee before I start my day. My days are normally mapped out, I look at my calendar and my to-do list to see what I have to do for work, and when I have to be on site I know what time I have to leave every evening. Routine is very important to adults, well guess what routine is quite important to children as well. Most children know when they wake up in the morning to go and brushed their teeth, they get dressed and ready for school, and of course, they eat breakfast. For most people, we find security in our routines and children are no different. But what happens when a child’s routine changes? Maybe a family is experiencing a new move to a strange new exciting place, or there’s a new exciting addition to the family like a little brother or sister. A sudden change in a child’s routine and environment can introduce uncertainty to the child. All of a sudden nothing is the same, and in many situations, a child doesn’t know what to expect on a daily basis. No matter what circumstances a routine change may happen at home, at school, or even when they come to swim class it’s important to reinforce to the child that change is good. One of the most important things that we do as instructors are talking to parents about experiences the child is going through. It’s important to let the instructors know when something happens in the child’s life, maybe they were sick, or an unexpected dramatic event like a passing of a loved one can greatly up in the normalcy of a child’s life. To better deal with this situation always let the instructors know if something has changed in your child’s life so that they can make the adjustments needed and adapt to every unique situation.
3. Experiencing Something Scary
Nowadays most families watch television together. And while most shows are adult-oriented sometimes we forget that our children are sitting right next to us when we watch our favorite drama on television. When something dramatic happens on the show a child can take the situation literally. Unlike adults, many children lack the understanding and the wherewithal to tell what is fact or fiction. When a child sees something traumatic in a television show or a movie that can lead to bad dreams and nightmares, and as most of you know that’s when the nightlight comes out. Having bad dreams can unnerve a child and that can carry over to swim class as well. Also often when a child has a bad dream or nightmare that leads to a lack of sleep, and when the child is restless many times they lack the interest to swim. A suggestion that we would make is to monitor what your child sees and if they do experience a traumatic event be it through television or a movie expressed to them that what they saw is not real and is simply make-believe, even compare it to a popular fairytale that they love. One caveat is when something traumatic happens in the world, often as parents you have to explain to your children what happened and why. These events can be very traumatic and can unnerve your child. Unfortunately, we cannot tell our children that these are fairy tales and for us, they are all too real. In situations like these, it’s vital to communicate with your child and also communicate with the instructors as well. Keep in mind our instructors are trained to deal with situations that may arise and have the ability to provide comfort to the child as they go through swim class.
4. When the Child’s Normal Instructor Changes
One of the most important things to us is to make sure that we interject a sense of normalcy and routine in our teaching method. Our program never changes, we practice sound technique and progression through each level. When students’ progress through the levels often times they become attached to certain teachers. And let’s not kid ourselves, as instructors, we get attached to students as well. One of the reasons a child regresses is because they no longer have the instructor that they had become used to. We understand that this is a trust issue. When a child decides to jump into the water they do so many times because they trust the instructor that’s in front of them. When the instructor changes, often time the way that instructor teaches, their vocal instruction, and even the way they greet the students also changes. These simple changes can cause a child to seize up and not want to get into the water. While we do love that students get attached to us as instructors, and honored that they trust us, it is important that parents understand that your child must be able to do the program with any certified instructor within the company. As our Aquatics Director Ty Cresap often says, “Many times the instructor that teaches a child at the Starfish or Minnow level may not teach the same child at the Turtle 1 and above levels.” While your child’s trust in the teacher is important, we must also ensure that they have the ability to learn with any and all instructors that may teach them during the class. This ensures that when they graduate there are no gaps in their swimming technique or survival skills.
5. When their friend goes up to the next level and leaves them behind
This doesn’t always happen but often children make friends with other kids that are in their class. Keep in mind that swim school is no different from the school that they attend during the day. We pride ourselves on creating a learning environment just as they do at your child’s elementary school. And like in school children often make friends with those that they are in swim class with. But imagine this, the friend you’ve made is no longer there. The person that you swim with every day had laughs and giggles with during class and made funny faces with at the instructor is gone. What would you do? Well, many times when a child’s friend has moved up to the next level and left them behind three things can happen, first, your child may feel embarrassed that they are still at the current level. We make it a priority to make sure that parents and children know that the reason a child moves up is that of their ability, and not their age or size. Our instructors often let children know that it doesn’t matter if their older or bigger than the other kids in the class all that matters is everybody learns how to swim. If your child feels embarrassed about this situation just reinforce the fact that they will get to the next level as soon as possible when they achieve the required skills that are needed. I would suggest even go so far as to read what they need to do to move to the next level form the assigned homework sheets a very important tool in our program. Second, a child may lose interest because their friend is no longer there. This is the easiest one to deal with often just a little encouragement and letting the child know that if they work hard and achieve the goals they are supposed to that they will soon be at the same level as their friend. Lastly, a child can often withdraw from wanting to swim. This can simply be that they no longer feel challenged in class. Many times a child will do something that they see another child do like jump in the water, and this is no different with our friends. When this particular incident happens we as instructors approach a situation with more aggression and provide different challenges that we present to the child so they feel a sense of accomplishment. And from a parent’s perspective, offering a reward for a job well done doesn’t hurt either – McDonald’s anyone?
So as you can see regression can come in many forms and circumstances. It’s important to recognize the issue behind the regression and treat the problem not the symptom. Our instructors are trained to recognize regression signs and address the problems head-on so that the child can continue their journey to success throughout the program. Sometimes a child can take one step forward and two steps back, this may be a common occurrence. But one thing that we are most confident in here at the British Swim School is our ability to teach, and our student’s openness to learning. Anytime something happens just know your instructors are always here to help and communicate with you whenever a situation arises and together we will make sure that your child becomes a happy safe and sound swimmer.