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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm really getting frustrated with this. Neither DD (6), nor DS (4) will put their faces in the water. We have hit a wall in the ability to have them learn how to swim as they refuse to do this. Now, let me clarify that this isn't a 'how to get htem to do it 1 time and they will be fine' sort of thing. DD HAS put her face in the water, she just won't do it consistently, she'll do it once then refuse to do it again, etc.

I've always taken the approach that she will do things when she's ready, but this is the third summer we've belonged to the pool club, this will be her third year of lessons and she has never progressed past the 1st level basically baby lessons. I look around and I see 5 year olds swimming underwater, no problem, my 6 year old is the only one still mostly playing in the baby pool.

And this doesn't help that DS follows suit with DD. When she is saying 'no!' he says 'no!' too even if he might have been ameniable to it in the first place. My children are EXTREMELY stubborn. I emphasize this because most people that feel their kids are stubborn interact with mine and realize how stubborn they really are. When they don't want to do something, it is extremely hard to get them to do it. Outright bribery will only work if it was something they kinda didn't want to do, but when they really do not want to do something, its impossible to talk them into it.

So I just don't know what to do? At what point do I become concerned? Because seriously every other 6 year old I've seen knows how to swim at least in some capacity, will put their face in the water, etc.
 

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My dd is also extremely stubborn. What I've found is, the only way to get her to do something is to get her personally motivated to do it. For swimming, that might mean swimming with kids that swim better than her--kids she looks up to.

But, honestly, I've known 6 yos who don't put their face in the water. Most do (ime), but not all. Honestly, I think I was one of those kids
. A lot of kids (myself included) learn to swim when they are tall enough to stand easily in the 3' part of the pool and play with the older kids. They start gliding along, knowing they can put their feet down at any time. And, very quickly, they are basically swimming.
 

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Do they have goggles? My younger son wouldn't put his face in the water for the longest time; then, one day, he decided to buy a pair of goggles with his birthday money, and the next time we went to the pool, he taught himself to swim underwater.
 

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Are you involved in the lessons? like a mommy and me thing? or is swimming lessons? Also is it a place you are a member and can swim aorund that has lessons or is it strictly go to swimming to get lessons? One thing I thought of is a lot of time my kids will preform better for other people. Maybe if you can take yourself out of the equation and let the instructor take the lead it would help. On teh other hand if it is the lessons that are making you crazy maybe give those up and let your kids play until they are ready to really "learn" to swim. Either way I think you need to take a giant step back. Take teh stand of I don't care if you ever put your face in teh water. Especially if yoru kids are super stubborn. Do you really want a summer full of tension? I hope I don't sound harsh but I can hear your frustration just seething through your post and I'm sure your kids can too. I've felt like this with different things (bike riding was big for me) and it really just isn't worth it. Good luck.
 

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  1. good googles
  2. play games like fetch the ring, she'll naturally go underwater, and it will be fun for her. my ds also hated to get his face wet (major sensory issues), but this is how he started off--slow and gentle and at his own pace. now he swims like a dolphin along the bottom of the pool
maybe try googling swimming pool games and see if you can find some that your dd would like

i would try hard not to turn the whole thing into a power struggle. swimming should be fun.
 

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My almost 8 yo won't put his face in the water if that makes you feel any better. He hates getting water in his ears, too, or I'm sure he'd be able to float (he has a good floating build, lol. I almost had him floating on his back, last summer. It was literally just the water in his ears freaking him out). But I have seen an increase in tolerance to water just recently. He started taking showers and letting water go in his ears and on his face. I think it is just a matter of time.
 

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Honestly... I can't see any reason to try and make her do it. You said she will do it once but say no after that. It sounds to me like she really does not like the feeling of having her face underwater, and I honestly can't blame her. I hate putting my face underwater too and avoid it as much as possible. I know two others who are the same way. One person who doesn't even like putting her face under a shower spray, she is one of the better swimmers I know and just doesn't put her face under the want when she's swimming.

Is there another way you can have them learn how to swim?
 

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Try getting them to blow bubbles in the water. Thats how i was taught.

And i agree with the goggles suggestions too.
 

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I taught swim lessons during from 16-21ish, and experienced this with a little brother as well

1. ditto on the goggles
2. year round swimming (lessons if you can, and membership to an indoor pool to play if you can't do lessons year round)
3. Always lay them down (considering you do not have ear infection issues) to wash hair in bath. This way the are used water being in their ears on a more regular basis. This may be easier with your younger one... My kids were a little younger, but we would rinse away shampoo lying down and stay down until I was done singing a song. They have to get used to water in their ears and around their cheeks on a year round reg basis.
4. Keep waiting. My sister and I were water bugs. My brother was not. He did not swim until the age of 7- for fear of the water in his face. He also had chronic ear infections so the water in his ears may have felt uncomfortable for him. He started teaching himself to swim like a pp mentioned, when he was old enough to stand in the shallow end. My mom was so confused with it though since me and my sister were swimming at 2-3 yrs of age.

I wouldn't force the issue, but I would designate practice times with them.

Like play for 10 minutes and then we will do 2 practices, or 1 minute of practicing of ________ and then you can play again. Your practices can be kicking one time, or under water another, or blowing bubbles, etc. Sometime they don't want to practice, but I try to intice them with a fun game or pool toy after the practicing.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for your responses. In response to several: Yes, she has goggles, yes she can stand with no problems in the shallow end of the pool (so can my son, they have both been able to touch for years), she sees tons of other kids swimming, and the children she looks up to the most can do things like dive in the deep end. She will not pick up rings, she will only pick them up with her feet. We've done blowing bubbles too, she knows that is supposed to lead to putting her face under so she refuses to even do that.

She has a similar resistance to any kind of swimming lesson. I've tried to teach her to swim with her head out of the water, she won't even let me hold her up while she tries, she flips out. I feel like getting her past the having her face under the water thing is going to make the rest of it easier as she won't have a fear of going under. The fear of going under or getting her eyes wet seems to be the main blocking factor here. Even in the level 1 swim lessons the first week they start having the kids going underwater and my daughter is already behind the class by session #2.

We've had lessons with me there, we've had lessons without me. As for why, I guess because I feel the longer she goes without doing it, the more likely it will become a seriously phobia and she will miss out on a huge part of childhood. We live 100 yards from the pool and we spend every day there in the summer. She already has problems making friends at the pool because she doesn't swim, all the kids her age go into the big pool and swim all around. In fact, most of the kids her age are on the swim team diving off the blocks. She is in the baby pool with the little kids. Even my son is getting too big for the baby pool peer-wise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by aydensmama View Post
3. Always lay them down (considering you do not have ear infection issues) to wash hair in bath. This way the are used water being in their ears on a more regular basis. This may be easier with your younger one... My kids were a little younger, but we would rinse away shampoo lying down and stay down until I was done singing a song. They have to get used to water in their ears and around their cheeks on a year round reg basis.
She does do this, on her own in the bath. It's definitely not an ear issue, its an eye thing. The most progress I've made is that *sometimes* when she gets water on her eyes (like being splashed) she will not run screaming to me for a towel (which my son still does) and will sometimes wipe her eyes with her hands and continue playing.
 

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The more you push it the more likely it will become a serious phobia because it makes it something she has no control over.

Have you had her wearing a life jack while encouraging her to put her face under? It might provide a little more stability for her. If she has a fear of going under, then asking her to put her face under the water is like asking someone with a fear of dogs to pet fido. The only way she is going to overcome the fear without making it worse is babysteps and in her own time with her own control over the matter.
 

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I'm 34 and still can't put my face in the water regularly, despite MANY swimming lessons. It's not a phobia or anything, it's just very uncomfortable to me and I prefer to swim with my face out of the water. I have the same eye issue, getting water in my eyes is like having a thousand ice picks stabbing me. Even in the shower I have to have a washcloth or towel nearby, just in case. It's just my physiology, and it hasn't changed in the 34 years I've been on earth, so I deal with it.

That being said, I LOVE being in the water, I've taken enough swim classes to know how to be safe, and I'm sure if it was a life-threatening situation I could get my eyes wet a little.
It's just more fun for me to swim the way I want to do it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
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Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
The more you push it the more likely it will become a serious phobia because it makes it something she has no control over.
Just because I want to find a way for her to get over it doesn't not mean I'm pushing her. Obviously she's 6 hasn't been pushed thus far and if I wanted to just 'push' her I wouldn't need advice from MDC. I was hoping I could find some ways that were a little different from the typical advice to get her through this.
 

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MightyMoo, here in Socal, young kids often do a two-week intensive course -- either private or very small. So it's 1-3 kids for 45 minutes a day, 10 days in a row. I"d probably look into something like that, complete with bribes, if it's a possibility. I can understand, that, at 6, you really want your DD to conquer her fear. There are instructors here who specialize in working with kids like that, and they're quite gentle and successful.

I think a lot of repetition quickly (every day) is key. I'm also not averse to bribes, because she really sees it as something unpleasant, so she may need an incentive.

best of luck,
-e
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
The more you push it the more likely it will become a serious phobia because it makes it something she has no control over.
I'm not sure this is straightforward. Isn't exposure / desensitization part of most therapies for phobias and sensory integration stuff? At any rate where would come the phobia if the child has never been in a situation where she was afraid. Isn't it more like the OP said, stubbornness?

PP reminded me of ISR. Maybe that would be a good approach for a reluctant 6 year old.

Sometimes kids do not want to do stuff because they have adopted a less optimal, perfectionistic type mindset that says if I can't do something as good as the other guy I won't do it at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
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Originally Posted by pigpokey View Post
I'm not sure this is straightforward. Isn't exposure / desensitization part of most therapies for phobias and sensory integration stuff? At any rate where would come the phobia if the child has never been in a situation where she was afraid. Isn't it more like the OP said, stubbornness?

PP reminded me of ISR. Maybe that would be a good approach for a reluctant 6 year old.

Sometimes kids do not want to do stuff because they have adopted a less optimal, perfectionistic type mindset that says if I can't do something as good as the other guy I won't do it at all.
This last sentence is my daughter to a T! She asked for months and months for a two wheel pedal bike (she had a pedaless one) and she got it for her birthday. She tried to do it and since she couldn't just do it immediately she didn't want to do it at all, and got very angry and didn't want the bike. I had to work with her a bit to be persistent in trying in order to do it, all in all it only took her a few days to be a pro on the bike, probably faster than most kids.

I think the problem is a combination of those. There is some fear there, certainly, but she is a naturally cautious kid. She does not just jump into things headlong. There is a frustration with imperfection, not being able to do it on the first try. A less stubborn child would allow those two to be overcome and try it with some encouragement, my child digs her heels in and refuses.
 

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The exposure therapy is never used against someone's will thought. The people who do that choose to do it themselves not because someone is trying to make them do it.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
The exposure therapy is never used against someone's will thought. The people who do that choose to do it themselves not because someone is trying to make them do it.
I suspect that kids therapy is quite possibly not always without their being under duress or "strongly encouraged".

OP, I really think it will just happen naturally if you leave her be. You said she is getting better about splashes on her face. The same thing is happening with my ds. My ds has very little opportunity to be in a pool (um, once or twice a year?) and I can see his comfort level progressing very nicely without doing anything (though I did try a number of things people suggested at one time or another, lol.)
 
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