If you have noticed that your child consistently makes a habit of misbehaving during swim lessons, it is perfectly natural to be frustrated. Though the frequency and severity of these behavioral issues may vary, it is actually very common for a child to act out during swim lessons- especially if they are a new student. If you find yourself wondering why your child is misbehaving and what you can do to minimize this kind of behavior, you have come to the right place.
At H2.O Aquatics, we have seen these behavioral issues firsthand during our swim lessons with students. While it can be both discouraging and frustrating for swim instructors and parents alike, it is much more productive to question why the child is misbehaving rather than to lose our tempers. Today we will be giving you valuable insight into what exactly may be causing your child to act out and what you can best do to resolve the situation as opposed to making the problem much worse.
A Fear of Swimming
The most common reason for bad behavior that our swim instructors have noticed is actually quite simple: a fear of swimming. This problem is most prevalent in new students who are learning to swim for the very first time. As a child, the great big world can be a particularly scary place filled with as many unnerving new experiences as there are enjoyable ones. Unfortunately, learning to swim typically falls into the category of unnerving experiences for most.
When a child is afraid of learning to swim, it is much more challenging to get them actively engaged in the process. Productive swimming lessons are the result of equal participation from both the swim instructor and swim student and a fearful child will likely be unresponsive. In the worst cases, a fearful child may even act out by yelling and refusing to get in the water.
Although it may be your first instinct, as a parent, to scold your child for this kind of behavior, it is important to remember that you will only be further conditioning them to associate swimming with negativity. Instead of approaching your child in anger, we advise parents to make an effort to understand their child’s feelings.
Sit your child down and try to identify what scares them most about swimming and attempt to soothe them. Encourage your child and support them in facing their fears. It’s also important to enthusiastically praise your child when they make an attempt to face their fears. Even if it’s something as simple as sitting on the side of the pool and letting their feet make contact with the water, let your child know how proud you are of them. With a little bit of encouragement, patience, and understanding, your child will be much more likely to respond well to the situation and put on their best behavior during their swimming lessons.
Struggling With Learning to Swim
Another very common reason for misbehavior during swimming lessons that our instructors see is the result of a child’s frustration with the process. When a child struggles to learn a new task, swimming included, frustration is inevitable. This frustration tends to result in bad behavior. When a child feels that they just won’t ever succeed, they tend to give up and refuse to participate.
This reason for misbehavior is particularly unfortunate as it can turn a child that was willing and even excited to learn to swim into one that wants nothing to do with the process. Worst of all, if a child convinces themselves that they will never be able to succeed, their self-esteem will take a hit. This can have even further negative effects on their willingness to try new things as they grow older.
So what can be done? If your child is misbehaving during swim lessons due to frustration with their own progress, a combined effort to encourage them to keep trying should be made between you and your child’s swim instructor.
A good swim instructor will quickly notice when a child’s frustration is building and will take the necessary measures to keep them feeling capable and determined to succeed. You can mirror this at home by praising your child for their continued effort and offering words of encouragement. Find the things that your child does do well during their swim lessons and bring it to their attention. When a child feels encouraged, by a parent especially, they are much more likely to give their best effort. Communication is everything.
Intimidation From Other Students
Within the same vein as a child struggling with their own progress lies another very important cause of misbehavior during swim lessons: intimidation from other students. This doesn’t necessarily mean children bullying your child for their progress (although this can be an issue as well and should be dealt with immediately by your child’s instructor). What we’re really referring to here is a lack of willingness to participate in swim lessons due to a child’s likelihood to compare themselves to their peers.
It is very common for students to measure how well they’re doing by comparing it to how well the other swim students in their class are doing. If your child feels that they aren’t performing to the same level as their peers, they may begin to act out. This behavior could be their way of expressing their frustration but there are other factors at play as well. For example, some children will make an effort to receive attention (even negative attention) from their peers and swim instructor if they don’t feel like they are receiving any. If your child feels that they can’t be “the best” at learning to swim, they may settle on being “the best” at demanding attention. Frequent misbehavior may be their way of doing so.
Getting to the root of what is causing your child’s behavior is as important here as with any other topic we have discussed. In this case, bad behavior is a direct result of a child’s insecurities. Make an effort to find out what is bothering your child and take the necessary actions to solve the problem.
If your child feels intimidated by the other students in their class and is acting out as a result, you may want to consider private swim lessons where your child can be more comfortable. This would also be especially helpful if your child is misbehaving due to a craving for one on one attention with their swim instructor. When a child who is prone to comparing their progress to their peers is put in a one on one environment, considerable improvements to their behavior can result.
If your child’s swim lessons are not offered in a private session format, consider keeping your child in swim lessons during the school year. It is a little known (but very true) fact that swim lessons are considerably less populated during the school year than the summer. This means a much quieter learning environment where your child will feel less self-conscious.
Making Your Child Feel Comfortable and Supported
If your child has made it a habit of misbehaving during swim lessons, H2.O Aquatics hopes that you will keep our recommendations in mind. We have dealt with this kind of issue many times in the past and have found that correcting bad behavior is more effective when both swim instructors and parents work together and approach the matter with sensitivity and patience.
If you’re looking for swim instructors who know and have utilized the best, most effective techniques in successfully teaching students to swim, look no further than H2.O Aquatics. We keep the individual needs of each of our students in mind and want to work alongside you to get your child excited and ready to swim. Contact us today for more information!