Swimming Lessons – A Metaphor?

It took a  “social service” moment to stop the madness.   –Let me explain.

My introverted daughter began swimming lessons at age two – a mommy and me class.   She would swim with me but screamed and cried if the instructor tried to swim with her.   I had no problem with that.  Stranger danger and all.

Her next class was at 3 1/2 and by herself.  Four weeks, twice a week.  She did not get in the water even once.  “I don’t like boy teachers,” she told me.  Okay.  (I guess?)

I registered her for the next session, believing that it was only a matter of time before she’d be ready to try.  Ha.img_0252

She did get in, once – with me.  One day after class, I got so mad that I changed into my suit and said.  “We aren’t leaving until you get into the water.  I don’t care if it takes all night.”  She eventually got in.  It was not satisfying.  I was still annoyed.

The rest of her swim session was a struggle.  She remained in the seahorse class for  four months before progressing to the Pollywogs where she stayed.

Moving ahead a few years to age 5 1/2.   We switched to a different pool and a different program.  I was ready for some progress!

But, the first lesson, she refused to get in the water.   I thought of elaborate bribes.  She choose the “buy a book” bribe for every good lesson.  Whatever it took I figured.

Next lesson, she wouldn’t even sit on the side.  She stayed on the chair with me watching and crying.

“But, remember what you get it you do a good job!” I cajoled while watching as the other children swim laps and practice breathing to the side.

That didn’t work either.  And then my crazy mom behavior emerged.

“Get in the water!  NOW,”  I screamed.


So, I may have pushed her in.   Yes, I did.  Or did I throw her in?

Then, I noticed the horrified expressions of the other parents watching, not the lesson – me and my “social service” moment.

We dropped out of swimming.  I gave it up.

She eventually decided to learn to swim the summer she was 6 1/2.  I didn’t even watch the class.

The bigger lesson: My introvert is only motivated internally.  No external influence, me, rewards, consequences, . . . nothing will influence her at this time in her life.  She will do things when she feels ready. It applies to everything in her life up to this time.

My hope: That it applies to peer pressure later on in life!


Explore posts in the same categories: Introverts, parenting, swimming

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3 Comments on “Swimming Lessons – A Metaphor?”

  1. meltay Says:

    Thank, Lee Ann! How are book sales?

  2. kathleen Says:

    Been there done that one to!!! Dance class, art class, gymnastics….

    …unfortunately the one place my daughter still hasn’t found an internal motivation for is school and she no longer gets a pass just for showing up and being good. But I have learned the hard way that nothing and nobody will make her do anything until she is ready. She’s in high school…I pray she will learn soon.

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