Steve Graves, Executive Director of the World Aquatic Babies and Children’s Network, asked me if there was a “tough teaching task” and “remedy” that came to mind to share with WABC Members in their newsletter. The first one that came to mind to me was the difficult task of alleviating anxiety and fears in young children, especially one and two-year old toddlers enrolled in Parent & Me classes.
Here are five remedies that we have found extremely effective for alleviating anxiety in toddlers at Swim Lessons University:
1. Especially on the first few classes, have parents hold their toddlers in a “hug hold” when entering the water. The children feel much more secure. I have seen parents holding children every which way, and this is certainly a critical element of getting started on the right foot.
2. Allow the parent and child to spend the first few minutes with “just each other.” One-on-one time so to speak, so the child can get acclimated to the environment. For years I debated on starting the class off with a song, but determined it was best to incorporate the group acclimation songs AFTER the initial warm up to the pool, new people, etc.
3. Gently introduce yourself to each child. Talk softly, smile a lot, and be very sensitive to the child’s readiness to accept you. Take your time.
4. When teaching skills, stay child-focused and introduce skills based on the child’s readiness–not yours.
5. You are the expert. You do it! When it’s time to teach skills such as breath control, surface swimming, or safety skills, you be the one to assist the child in practicing the technique. You have done it hundreds of times. Parents have not. Parents are anxious. You are not. The child senses this anxiousness. Most importantly, you can lead the child to the parent when practicing skills. So the child is going TO THE PARENT, which is more comforting than the parent sending them away and toward you. Keep in mind when you take the child from the parent to start the skill, don’t hesitate a second to begin. You want to start immediately using a start command such as 1, 2, 3. This is especially important until the child gets to know you. If the child sees right away he/she is going to mom or dad, most of the anxiety is alleviated within seconds.
Hope these tips help you and your staff! Just FYI, we will be sharing video footage of many of these in our brand new Parent & Me video that will be released LATE FALL, 2012. Sign up for our newsletter so you know when it is ready! We will also be sharing some sneak preview footage from the new Parent & Me video in the Infant Toddler Swimming Presentation at our annual Swim Instructors Conference in Las Vegas on September 7, 2012 Enroll Today and get the Early Bird rate of just $85.00!
June 18, 2012 at 6:58 pm Comments (0)