Helping your child through the water wobbles

13-03-2020 Reads 2218x

Whether your little one has suddenly stopped enjoying being in the water and you’re not sure why, or you’ve simply heard the term ‘water wobbles’ being talked about and are wondering what it’s all about, here’s some information we’ve put together that explains what’s going on.

What are the ‘water wobbles’?

 ‘Water wobbles’ is a phrase that’s used to describe how the natural development stage that most children go through between the ages of 8 – 24 months old manifests itself in the pool.

It’s a time of conflicting emotions for your little one, and normally coincides with them starting to gain a bit more independence.

They might be just starting to cruise or walk; they’re definitely becoming more aware of their surroundings and generally more adventurous (they’re probably falling down, bumping into things and getting frustrated when things don’t go their way, too!).

Yet while they’re craving independence, they’re also starting to experience separation anxiety, becoming distressed if you leave the room, or clinging to you when other people are around.

All of which is frustrating for you, but even more confusing for your little one.

What are the signs my child is going through the water wobbles?

No two children are exactly the same in the water, but if they were previously pretty happy and suddenly start to display any of these signs, then it’s a fair bet that the water wobbles have hit:

  • Screaming in lessons

  • Clinging to you

  • Shying away from other people

  • Not wanting to join in with any of the activities

  • Refusing to go underwater

What can I do to help them?

Any stress you’re feeling will quickly transfer to your child, so the best thing you can do is to keep calm and keep smiling – remember, the water wobbles is just a phase, and it will pass!

And when they come out the other side, your little one will be just as happy and confident in the water as they were before (if not more so).

In the meantime, here are some things that will help you both through this challenging time.

  • Praise, praise - and then praise some more! Your child needs constant encouragement and reassurance, so make sure you give them that in bucketfuls.

  • Hold them a bit closer (but don’t keep them firmly attached as this can reinforce their anxieties at being separated from you).

  • Focusing on the things they’re good at, your teacher will be able to suggest ways you can adapt activities to help rebuild their confidence.

  • Chances are they’ve got a favourite swim toy, so let them use it in every activity to give them a bit of extra reassurance.

  • If they’re not enjoying a particular swim position, it might be because they don’t feel secure. Your teacher will be able to advise you on trying a slightly different one that might work better.

  • Just because you’ve always swum at a certain time on a certain day doesn’t mean it still works for your child. Their sleep or eating patterns may have changed, or they might be over-tired from an earlier activity. Try changing the day or time to see if that makes a difference.

  • Don’t push them until they’ve regained their confidence or trust – go at their pace, take your cues from them, and eventually that trust and confidence will come bouncing back!

  • Remember that you’re not the only parent going through this right now, so talk to others in your class – you’ll probably find they’re only too happy to share their experience with you.

Finally, don’t forget that your Baby Swimmers teacher will have worked with lots of parents to help their children through the water wobbles – they’ve seen it all before, and will have lots of tips for you to try.

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