Have I ever told you that my son N was terrified of water??? WAS is the operative word. It was extreme, like to the point that I couldnt get a car wash without him crying and screaming in the back seat. Going to Sea World was no walk in the park either. And forget going in the pool. N would never get close enough, he was safe, secure, and quite content sitting on the sidelines watching his sister and cousins play in the pool. It was just his norm for the past three years. I am not sure why he developed this fear, but it was real. Many would advise me to just throw him in or force him in the water and eventually he would just stop crying and start swimming. I knew as his mother that line of action would cause even more damage to N. This fear of water is actually called aquaphobia. Aquaphobia is basically defined as a persistent and abnormal fear of water. 18% of Americans suffer from aquaphobia. This extreme phobia can actually interfere with one’s daily life, making it difficult to complete simple tasks, as I explained above.
I waited til I thought the time was right and I made the decision to sign N up for swim classes. I explained to him that it was for his own safety that he learn how to swim and he would need to be brave. I prayed about this for a long time and then one day N came home with a sign up sheet from his daycare for Summer Time Swim Lessons. This was it! So I filled out the informational form, was extremely honest about N’s fear, but wasn’t quite sure if they understood just how petrified my lil boy was of the water on paper. I felt like I was the only mother that was dealing with this odd behavior. I mean, my daughter just naturally took to water and swam like a fish.
Then I got the call…Kim from SwimKids USA assured me that I was making the right decision and that by the end of the summer N would be swimming on his own. I still was not 100% comfortable with the idea but I knew he had to learn. If anything he would learn the basics and if he ever fell in the water he would know how to get out. So we signed up for weekend classes. Kim advised that I not speak to N about the classes to avoid any anxiety he may feel. So we didn’t talk about classes much. I told him about it and I got, “mom you don’t love me.” I told him it was because I loved him so much that I wanted him to learn how to swim. So he could be safe.
After that conversation it was never brought up again. It was tugging in my heart, those words…”mom you don’t love me.” I was hurt and it was then that I knew just how deep his fear was.
On day N had anxiety from the time we got up. He cried all the way to swim class. When we arrived Mr. Jose (his swim teacher) was very welcoming and tried to talk to N. My lil N wouldn’t even look at him. When it came time to get in the water N screamed and cried. He clung tight to me and begged me not to make him go in the water. Mr. Jose helped to calm him down and assertively asked N to sit on the ledge. N was terrified but knew he had no choice. Over the next couple of classes N would ask what they were doing and cry. He would ask Mr. Jose to hold him tight and would come up with every excuse possible to get out of the water. “Mr. Jose I heard thunder, I saw lightning, I have to go to the bathroom.” He would look back at me with tears in his eyes as to say, “mom come save me.” When it came time to dig his hands and kick his feet and swim to the wall, all while Mr. Jose was holding him tight he would scream, “Im sinking!” He was oh so scared, but pushing himself to complete the tasks he was asked to do. I hid my tears behind my sunglasses. I cheered when he completed each task and made it back to the wall…his new safe haven. All the while Mr. Jose was very patient, calm, and reassuring. By week three Noah was feeling more confident and looked forward to swim class. My tears cried are now tears of joy and great pride. N is excited when he arrives to class and cant wait to jump in! Our July 4th holiday was extra special because it was his first time playing in the water with his sister and cousins. It was amazing! This weekend N told me he wants to be a gold winner in the olympics one day. He said, “wouldn’t that be great mom? Thanks to Mr. Jose I love the water.” I am so amazed at the transformation. And it isn’t just my son, but all the children in his class have come so far with their confidence and skill. I highly recommend classes with Mr. Jose at SwimKids USA. I can totally see my son swimming freely like a lil fish by the end of the summer. And who knows…maybe he will be an Olympic gold medalist one day!
If your child has a fear it is best to listen to them and hear them out. Sometimes all they need is a lil reassurance and some love.
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