Swimming School

If, like the Chocolate Phoenix family, you feel that you cannot afford swimming lessons…

And if, like the Chocolate Phoenix family, you find that you spend the majority of your summer in the pool…

(Because if, like the Chocolate Phoenix family, you live in Phoenix and it’s too hot to do anything except spend the majority of your summer in the pool…)

And if, like the Chocolate Phoenix family, you wish your children had just a little bit of independence so no one is hanging on your neck while you’re trying to keep yourself afloat…

Then you should follow the CHOCOLATE PHOENIX SCHOOL OF SWIMMING METHOD. It’s easy. I’ll share with you our secret to swimming. (Note: I know that this isn’t a real method. This is just what we did with our kids. It’s not something we even thought out. So don’t anyone actually try this and then blame me when it doesn’t work or your kid drowns. You know your kid. You do what will work for your kid! I take NO responsibility for anyone else.)

First, get your kids comfortable with the water by making them get in the pool just about every day, no matter what. Got a migraine? Take some Exceddrin and go anyway. Sunburned? Put on extra sunscreen, try to stay in the shade and go anyway. Just don’t feel like going? Too bad. Go anyway.

Our kids wear arm floaties or a life jacket so they are completely happy to swim and don’t have to just sit on the step or hang on to Mom or Dad.  We still stay near them and keep an eye on them, but having floaties or a life jacket really makes a difference and gives our kids a lot more freedom in the water. They learn to kick and paddle (you can only paddle with your arms with a life jacket, though). We teach them how to plug their nose and jump in. They like to put their face under water and wear goggles and “dive” (because of life jackets, we have to push them pretty hard) for toys. They learn to hold their breath and not be afraid of the water or of not being able to always have their feet touching the ground.

Then, when they have hit about age four or five, they need incentive. Last summer, Dallin wanted to jump off the diving board at a public pool. He wasn’t allowed to wear a life jacket for that, and we told him he had to be able to jump in the water and swim to the other side without a life jacket. Apparently that was all the incentive he needed. He took his life jacket off and just went for it. Within three days he was ready to jump off the diving board! Amazing! Before that, he literally sank like a rock. I honestly never thought he’d learn to swim on his own.

If you can’t find the right incentive, you bargain. With Parker this summer, we told him he could swim all he wanted with the life jacket, but he had to take it off and do some swimming for 5 minutes every single time we went to the pool. He was so scared he would cry and shake violently. He did this for weeks. However, he could actually swim for a few feet just fine. We had to convince him to keep doing it. We bargained for just five minutes. This past week, when he took the life jacket off, he no longer shook with fear. He whimpered a bit, but swam anyway. His death grip on my got a little looser. We bargained for longer and longer bits of time. Yesterday, we got him to take off the jacket and cheered him on as he swam further and further. Then I asked him if he wanted to jump into the pool and swim. We just wanted to see if he could do it. I don’t know where this sudden bravery came from, but Parker just climbed out of the pool, back up several feet, shouted, “Cannon ball!!!!” and jumped in the pool towards Ches. Then he popped up, and swam to his dad. It. Was. AMAZING. And he had so much fun doing it that he continued to do it! Over and over again! And he just kept swimming!!

Once you have your child okay with swimming small bits on their own, you go back to the pool. A lot. They have to remember that they can do this! So back to the pool we went today. Parker didn’t even want to take the life jacket as a “just in case”. He knew he could swim. And he does just fine. It’s awesome.

I knew Parker would be swimming on his own this summer. I honestly didn’t expect it to happen this soon! We’re all very excited for him. Now, if you’ll excuse me, the pool awaits…

2 responses to “Swimming School

  1. That is so great! The pond kindof scares our kids to go without life jackets. And Jody had a near drowning experience when he was growing up, so he demands jackets most of the time. But, Abi is doing it on her own and I think soon Keenan will want to too. I need to be better about going every day!

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