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Two Year Old Independence

Nov 24 2020 2:13 PM

The independence of 2yo's and how to work with it during swimming.

Do you want to go swimming? NO!!! Do you want to play outside? NO!!! This is the typical answer a 2 year old will give whether they want it or not. They are too young to know but they like to assert and test out their independence. They will say NO whether they mean it or not. They are also still very insecure and need the guidance of an adult, especially the parents. It is a demanding time but short lived. They still need security so that they have the confidence to branch out while seeking independence. Certainly let them choose, but give them options with carefully worded questions eg 'do you want to take your blue towel or the green one to swimming?' NOT 'do you want to go swimming?' You are the adult and make the important decisions about what is best for your child, but you need to let them show their independence so choose your questions carefully. You know they need to go swimming so that is not the issue. The choice comes in smaller things eg will we take the car or walk? They need you to be firm and in control of them for security while allowing some freedom of choice.

Have you noticed in lessons that your previously happy child suddenly doesn't want to go under the water. They start to arch their backs, pull their heads up, refuse to go, etc. They are starting to resist.

Our immediate reaction is 'They don't like to swim anymore'. What they are actually trying to say is ‘I don't want you to initiate the submersion; I want to do it myself!' ‘I want to do it when I want to do it, not you doing it'. We as adults need to find out where they want to swim. It may be to mum, away from mum, to a particular toy, to the wall, to the steps, etc. Once we have worked that out, let them initiate the swim. It may take longer while they decide and focus on other things.

We need to still help and guide, and be there for them but let them initiate the swim so that it is under their control. We need to go slowly with them as fast moves in the water can cause panic. Let them float off your hands rather than be pushed off so that they are balanced, comfortable and in control.

Once this happens and they feel in control they will start to venture out and experiment.

Let them glide rather than add a kick which can create panic. Let them feel the water and what it can do. Let them balance and then they will initiate the movement. Learning to swim is like learning to walk. They must initiate it themselves, be comfortable and progress at their own pace. Good luck it is worth the effort.