Q. We’ve signed up our 3-year-old son for swimming lessons for the third time. Every time he looks at the large pool and hears the loud noises, he cries. What can we do?

4 Parents should address the fear of water by taking the child swimming often. He needs to know it can be his friend, but also his enemy. When our first born was only 6 months old, we started lessons in a children’s pool. I held him securely and spoke softly about the water and safety. By the time he was 3, he was a “water frog.” In fact, I did this with all three of my children and all seven of my grandchildren. Today, they’re all “water frogs.” –
Ruth Miazgiewicz, Fort Worth, TX.

4 My son did the same thing the first day of swim lessons. As a last resort, I bribed him. I promised if he would try to have fun for the remainder of the lessons, with no screaming and crying, we would spend one day on the big pirate ship at a nearby swimming complex. It worked beautifully. He calmed down and kept reminding himself of the pirate ship experience as a reward. He had a lot of fun once he stopped screaming and crying. He accomplished his goals and was quite proud of himself. –
Kristi Dawdy, Nashville, TN.

4 My twins started this only last weekend. The complex is located inside, and sounds are magnified. It scared them. The next thing I knew they also were concerned with going to the bathroom in the water. My pediatrician suggested earplugs for the noise. It worked. They could still hear the instructor, but the plugs blocked out the exaggerated noises around the pool walls. To conquer the other problem, my sister came up with the idea to fill up our bathtub and let the kids play in it with Little Swimmers pool diapers under their swim suits. They are thin and lightweight and don’t swell up like regular disposable diapers. They gave the twins the confidence they needed to overcome the fear of pottying in the pool. –
H.L., St. Louis, MO.

FROM JODIE: The noise and size can sometimes overwhelm little ones. Sometimes it helps if three dividers are put up to separate a large pool into smaller areas. If the instructor will face everyone toward a side or end of the pool during lessons, it will appear that “their” pool is much smaller. If a child does look down at the other side, the three dividers will create an illusion of another bigger pool being on the other side, which will make him feel safer.


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