Transitions From Water Babies to Pre Pre: Ways to Help your Child Adjust
New things are hard, especially for children. Separation anxiety is a normal part of child development. When a child is challenged by a new developmental task, they are likely to temporarily lose ground. Add water to the mix of leaving mom and dad for 30 minutes (basically forever in their minds) and you have a recipe for anxiety and trepidation. As aquatic professionals, we see this quite often with our non-swimmers, especially those transitioning from our Water Babies program to our Pre-Pre level classes. Their reaction is normal and expected. We train our team members to understand their fear and teach with kindness and love.
As a mom, I understand how hard it is to see your child scared or upset. You want to do everything in your power to comfort them and reassure them that everything is going to be okay. My son Mason, recently transitioned from our Water Babies program to a Pre-Pre level class. As happy and excited as I was for him, it created a bit of anxiety in me. I wondered how he would deal with this change and react to not being in the pool with mommy. In our case, we had a pretty smooth transition and know how lucky we are-Mason’s teacher, Miss Julia, just so happens to be his Aunt.
We know that not all of our families have this easy of a time transitioning. As hard as it is to watch your child sit and cry out for you on our steps know that our team members are there for them to keep them safe and comfortable.
We call you our families for a reason-we care about your child and want them to succeed. We want them to be comfortable and establish a love for the water.
Here are a few things that may aid in your child’s adjustment:
–Bring them in for a facility tour or come to an Open Swim if one is offered at your location to help acclimate them to this new environment before their first lesson. While you are here, ask a team member about scheduling a Prepre orientation class if you haven’t already done so.
–Talk with your child. Mason has his lessons Monday mornings. Every Sunday night before bed, I tell him that tomorrow he has his swim lesson with Aunt Julia and that mommy will be watching from the “mommy room.” A new swimmer recently enrolled into Mason’s class, so now I talk about taking turns, sitting nicely on the safety steps and being a good listener. We also put our swim bag together. We pack his bathing suit, swim diaper, towel and goggles. We also practice skills at home during bath time like making his big balloon and pencil hands.
–Acknowledge their fear. Empathy can help your child feel safe and understood. We often ask our swimmers why or what they are scared of and talk them through it, always reminding them that we are here to keep them safe. We understand their fear and know our job is to teach them with love and care.
–Create a special “See you Later” ritual to help ease their anxiety before class. Make up a special wave or high five or give a big hug and kiss. Practice it at home. It will become the norm for them and they will begin to know that after our special “See you Later,” mom or dad go watch in our viewing area.
–Stick to the routine. Consistency is key, especially for our Pre-Pre level swimmers and they will only benefit in the long run. They will get used to seeing their teacher and lifeguard each week as well as the other friends in their class. They will cry less and less as they learn more and more.
Parents remain strong and take comfort in knowing that soon your child’s tears will fade to smiles and they will look forward to their swim lesson each week.