The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

How to Alleviate Anxiety in Your Infant & Toddler Swimming Lessons

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!  If you would like to become a Certified Swim Lessons University “Infant-Toddler” Instructor, you can take a comprehensive video course designed to teach you everything you need to know.   You can also do your certification exam in the comfort of your own home using our online testing program!  Enroll in a Parent & Tot Instructor Certification course today!

The International Swimming Hall of Fame has named Jim Reiser the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award for his curriculum and approach in teaching infants, toddlers, and children to swim.  Jim is the first American to win the award in 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University Online Swim Instructor Certification  and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

, , , , , , , , ,
June 18, 2012 at 6:58 pm Comments (0)

Back Floating Babies

First off, we NEVER float babies against their will. It’s simply not worth turning them off to the water, which is most often the result when you take the enjoyment out of the learn-to-swim experience. If you do stay child-focused, most infant and toddlers will take to it.  Children can learn other potentially lifesaving skills too, like getting back to the side of the pool if they fell in the water, which doesn’t require them to be on their back.   We think it is so important that swimming instructors are not overly aggressive or insistent that a child masters a particular skill.   At this young age, children should be closely supervised at all times no matter what, and there should be numerous layers of protection when it comes to water safety.  If parents can make sure their toddlers stay off a busy street, they can also ensure they don’t end up in a swimming pool without supervision.

At Swim Lessons University, our Certified Swimming Instructors introduce back floating and kicking using a “cheek-to-cheek” support with the child’s head on the parent’s shoulder.  In this first video, I want you to notice how I use the “cheek to cheek” hold and put my student Rex in a nice horizontal body position.  On the other hand,  my other student Kamryn is not very horizontal nor is she feeling her body’s buoyancy.  Now this is MY RESPONSIBILITY to correct.  I need to a better job teaching Kamryn’s father to get her in a horizontal position like Rex so she too can feel the water floating her.  Take a look:

I always stress that the best hold is the one that gives the student just enough support to be successful.

Within in a few weeks, you can progress to what I am doing in this next video IF the child is ready.  This is Baby Rex’s very first time floating without my support. I think it is critical for the safety of the child that you don’t allow water to continue to get on the face, in the mouth, etc. If that is occurring frequently, not only do you starting taking the fun out of it, but you are also putting the child at risk. Notice how closely I watch Rex’s face and the water, and as soon as it appears he is going to try and sit up or that his body position is going to cause water to get on the face, I resume my support, sit him up, and praise him.

With continued practice and instruction, this skill will naturally improve.  Don’t expect it all at once.  And don’t be surprised if there are days when your student doesn’t want to be on his/her back at all.   Stay child-focused and keep the experience positive.   About two weeks after the above video was shot, Rex kicked on his back all the way around a small lazy river (probably about 35-50 yards) in Myrtle Beach’s Dune’s Village Water Park because HE WANTED TO!   I just walked with him and enjoyed watching him have fun with it.   The next day, however, he didn’t want to be on his back at all (to my surprise), until he saw his 3.5 year old brother kicking on his back!  And BINGO…Rex wanted to do it too!  And he did.

The International Swimming Hall of Fame has named Jim Reiser the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award for his curriculum and approach in teaching infants, toddlers, and children to swim.  Jim is the first American to win the award in 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University Online Swim Instructor Certification  and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

, , , , , , , , , , , ,
June 13, 2012 at 12:57 pm Comments (0)