Let us talk about swimming! It is an activity that most adults and children enjoy, especially here in Dubai. But have you ever taken a step back and looked at the water activities you do with your little ones? Or how much interaction you have in the water, or even from the side of the pool? Parents play a key role in a child’s development.
Now, I am no child psychologist, however over my 13 years of being a swimming teacher, I have seen many children and parents come and go to swimming classes and it is the parent’s reactions I find interesting. The children are always so excited to be getting into the water and with all the brightly colored toys and floats around it is a dream playground with water.
The fear, uncertainty and worried facial expressions from parents I have seen over the years at the start of a swimming lesson, the warnings that are getting handed out before a class, “don’t misbehave” or “make sure you listen to your teacher!” It makes me wonder do you hand out the same warnings at the pool when you go swimming with your child.
Are there rules to be followed when you go for a swim at your local community pool or beach club. Having been to a few beach clubs and community pools in my free time, not just to swim, everyone likes to lie in the sun and enjoy some “me” time.
I find it fascinating to watch families interact in the water. Some parents are very safety aware, I kid you not I once saw a child walking around a pool in a high Vis jacket just so the parents could keep an eye on them!
Then you get the complete opposite end of the scale where the parents let their darling children run and jump around the pool without batting an eye, not caring how deep or shallow the pool may be or the older child pushing and kicking the younger one. I always encourage parents to be part of their little ones’ lessons and make sure they are given homework.
Yes as crazy as it sounds, I give out swimming homework. It is something for child and parent to work on when they go to the beach club or community pool. It also helps the parent understand why we teach certain techniques and swimming skills.
Having a confident adult in the water helps massively with a child’s confidence, take one of my family members for example. She hates putting her head under water whether it be in a swimming pool or even the shower! She uses a cup to wash her hair and refuses to go swimming out of her depth. This fear has been passed on to her children.
When they were younger they were not allowed to swim past the middle of the swimming pool into the deep end as she was so uncomfortable not being able to see them or get to them if need be. If you have never been a confident swimmer maybe join a learn-to-swim adult class, there are so many to choose from and don’t be scared or embarrassed.
I have had 60 year olds learn to swim, it is that determination and drive that helps you progress in this sport. It’s never too late to learn!
Interaction in the water with your child is such an important thing, if they see you having fun and enjoying the water they will soon follow. I have taken a few babysplash classes over the years and new mums and dads entering the water for the first time with their little ones is such a lovely thing to see.
However, some of these parents look terrified. Baby will pick up on these feelings of tension and fear, this soon shows as the lesson gets underway, when the crying starts (from baby, though I have had some mums and dads in tears too) and baby is obviously feeling uncomfortable getting these vibes from mum or dad.
Enjoy the water with your little ones, plenty of encouragement and smiles! With all the technology of iPhones, iPads etc, use these. Take videos of them swimming and ask them if they can see what they are doing wrong and how they can improve their swimming? Swim together supporting each other, you never know you might learn something yourself and become a better swimmer.
Take the time to praise and reassure your little one, that they are doing a great job and encourage them to try something different, whether it be jumping in the deep end or diving down a little further than they usually do.
Explore the water together, play games, dive in, swim with the fish, whatever it takes to get you both in the water will help tremendously in building the confidence and structure for your child’s swimming. You as a parent play a key role in how your child progresses in their swimming.
Yes, teachers are there to implement technique and to put the skills together for each stroke, but you are there to build their confidence and give them that support and practice they need to progress. Enjoy the water, living in Dubai we are not short of it with the sea on our doorstep and hundreds of swimming pools across the city. Teach your children a skill for life.
Swimming Teacher at High Performance Swimming Club
- Swimming Teacher in Dubai for 3 years, used to live in the UK. Born in South Africa, I have swam competitively for South Africa, Southern Botswana and the West of Scotland. I have been teaching for 13 years since then.
Company: High Performance Swimming Club