When Your Child Goes Under: How To Handle It
It happens even when you’re right there, within arms reach of your child. One minute they’re bobbing on a noodle or splashing on the steps, the next minute they’re underwater and even though you only took your eyes off them for one second, it was during that second that your child disappeared.
Obviously you lunge for them and pluck them up quickly, but then what? How you react has an enormous impact on how they recover and move on from the incident. Some children will barely even register that something scary had happened while others will be rightly shaken and initially terrified and confused.
I know as the parent your heart will be beating so fast its a wonder it doesn’t fly right out of your chest and you will probably feel faint. The residual thoughts of ‘what if I hadn’t been there, what if I hadn’t seen him/her for another few seconds, why did I turn away for even a second....’ will plague you for hours if not days.
Here are some things to know about these tiny yet significant moments that can help both you and your child move through it smoothly:
Successful Swim Lessons: Explicit Language
When doing any form of teaching, explicit language is essential for success. When teaching in a more intimate setting, such as a private swim lesson, explicit and nurturing language is more important than ever. Regardless of a child's age, they feed off of the language, tone and word choice or their teachers.
At Kidswim we form a close bond with our students in which we get to know them as individuals. This better equips our instructors to create a specialized lesson for that child which also takes into account the age and stage of each child as well as their temperament.
One key element to teaching water safety and socialization with the water is to find a relevant point of reference for the student. When teaching strokes and skills that involve complex motor skills and coordination, the teacher must create a logical reference to something in the child's set of previous experiences. For example, when learning proper freestyle arms it is helpful to suggest that the hands are like ice cream scoops, trying to scoop ice cream out of the clouds and bring it into the water. This image alone addresses multiple aspects of freestyle form: Cupped hands, range of motion, direction, and speed. It doesn't only help illustrate how the arms should work with the stroke, but it also helps internalize the new knowledge with an easy to remember point of reference.
Every child is different, and different imagery and references click for some better than others. This is why all of our instructors at Kidswim teach our private swim lessons with explicit language that nurtures their students growth and development.
5 Must-Know Tips on Pool Party Safety
Pool parties can be a blessing for parents who have kids with summer birthdays. All you need to do is make sure everything is ready and let ‘em go. Kids can entertain themselves in pools for hours without needing distractions, breaks or even food!
What is also true though is that there are some very specific things that can put kids at risk and you as the homeowner in a weak position. These fives things are crucial to know in order to help you have a safe, fun and fabulous pool party.
1) Don’t skimp on lifeguards! Assuming that parents will watch their own kids or that because the kids are a bit older (above age 6) they will be okay is taking an unnecessary risk. Depending on the size of your pool and the amount of children you need at least one lifeguard, possibly 2. If your pool has any blind spot areas such as lagoon crevices or waterfall pockets you should definitely have two guards with one stationed at that spot at all times. For a few hundred dollars (lifeguards typically cost about $50 an hour per guard, some have a minimum of 2-3 hour requirements) you are establishing a level of supervision that even the most diligent parent isn’t necessarily prepared to do.
The Great Goggle Debate
This past weekend I observed a father trying to reason with his four year old daughter to put her face in the water. There were phrases like ‘watch honey, you just close your eyes and hold your breath and dunk under.’ I was amused, thinking that to a four year old, closing one’s eyes, holding one’s breath and submerging oneself underwater was not going to be the selling point.
In truth, we prefer that a child’s eyes be open, that they blow out under water rather than hold their breath and that they look down into the water rather than submerge themselves vertically which can have a claustrophobic ‘I’m going under’ sensation rather than a looking down and seeing what’s under the water while keeping the back of your head out.
The key, really is for a child to look into the water with open eyes and see that it is not a scary place and that water on your eyes or in your face is not a bad thing. I know how quickly a parent’s heart beats when they are going to submerge a baby for the first time in an infant swim class and that the connotation of a child accidentally getting his face wet or going under prompts a parent to say ‘you’re okay,’ as though getting a face wet could be a bad thing.
Effective Teaching: Its the What and the How, the When and the Why
One of the most important elements of being able to relay information effectively to children is the ability to relate to them. Private swim lessons in particular allow the instructor to really get to know each child and their particular likes and dislikes. When an instructor is explaining to a child HOW to do something, WHAT they say is crucial to the child’s understanding and ultimately, their execution and retention.
For example, when we teach freestyle form, we say things like ‘turn your arm into a shark fin and the elbow is the highest part of the fin,’ or for breaststroke ‘draw an upside down heart with your hands,’ or for elementary backstroke we tell children to move their arms in a formation that goes ‘chicken, airplane, solider.’
Is Your Child Really Water Safe?
Here’s a short excerpt from our Tackle Thursday guest blog on The Little Seed:
While I understand the desire to get a child swimming as quickly as possible, especially in L.A. where pools and pool based activities are a part of life, it’s important to realize that in order for a child to truly be water safe, they need three components to work together and none of them are enhanced by a ten day intensive swim program.
KidSwim’s Parent/Child Classes
KidSwim offers an array of parent/child classes. We can come to your pool or you can come to ours. Looking for one-on-one lessons or a group of moms? Both options are available. We work with babies of all ages and abilities, including special needs. Dads, don’t worry, you’re welcome too!
Bring your baby and bathing suit, because we’re blowing bubbles, doing kicks and having a great time. Contact us today at 888.579.SWIM (7946) for rates and availability. It’s never too soon to swim!
We Love Lessons!
KidSwim has now secured a pool in Palos Verdes and provides only the best in swim instruction. We offer one-on-one and parent/child classes, as well as water safety seminars. Interested in lessons? Contact us today!
How to Handle A Setback Due to Fear or Anxiety
Then one day, he protested about getting in. The next lesson he protested getting in and cried when I asked him to do some swimming. He replied that he only wanted to stay on the steps and play games. Then he no longer wanted to put his face in. Little by little, each skill, each activity became an opportunity for him to protest and his adamancy won out over my reasoning.
Words of Wisdom
Unlike any other sport, swimming is the only one that is necessary as a life saving skill. I have found that people who are passionate about swimming are enigmas to those who aren’t. While I could go on about the magic of the water, the benefits of swimming, the positive mental and physical effects it has on the body and mind over time…. for days; it just wouldn’t be interesting if you’re not a water person. What I have learned however, are some valuable life lessons that are mirrored in the practices of learning to swim.