If you know Goldfish Swim School, you know our beloved mascot, Bubbles! He is bright orange (you totally can’t miss him!) and full of joy – he spreads it everywhere he goes! He captures the hearts of kiddos and parents alike as he takes the town of each community he lives in, meeting new people and bringing smiles to little ones’ faces. Bubbles is a big part of our Goldfish family, but he’s not the only water-loving creature that we know and love! He has a sea of friends that help kiddos overcome challenges they may face when getting ready to dive into swim lessons.

One of Bubbles’ very good friends, Jitt the precious puffer fish, helps swimmers with one of the very common emotions swimmers can have before starting swim lessons – anxiety. Anxiety can come from uncertainty surrounding new experiences, but it is something that can be worked through! With our FINtastic swim instructors in the pool, and your help at home, we can help kids overcome their anxiety around swim lessons (and in general!) one step at a time.

First things first – we have to understand the signs and symptoms that Jitt shows when he is feeling a little anxious. Sometimes he says things like I don’t want to go! or I’m so tired, please don’t make me go! While we know inside he is feeling excited about swim lessons, on the outside his feelings of anxiety can overcome his excitement and make it hard for him to work up the courage to get into the water. By understanding these signs and being prepared with coping skills and techniques, we can help Jitt and our swimmers gain confidence in the pool!

It’s important for Jitt to be reminded that it’s okay to be a little nervous! Though it may be uncomfortable to feel that way, we’re well equipped to help him get through it and come out on the other side confident ad excited about swim lessons! It starts at home, with parents helping their children understand and work through these feelings. Here’s some tips for helping your littles if you notice signs of anxiety:

Practice Deep Breaths

Deep breaths increase the supply of oxygen to the brain which stimulates the nervous system and helps promote calmness. Helping your little one take a deep breath in through their nose and out through their mouth can give them the time to calm down and settle their nerves.

Normalize and Validate Their Feelings

Rather than discouraging your child from expressing their feelings, normalize them by saying it’s okay to feel them! Sometimes, the littlest bodies can have the biggest feelings! Helping kiddos understand their feelings and reminding them that it’s normal and okay to feel them makes all the difference for an anxious child.

Focus on A Goal, Not the Problem

The goal of swim lessons is to become a safer and stronger swimmer. Remind them of the benefits of learning to swim! Allow time to prepare for swim lessons mentally and physically, and avoid being rushed or frazzled. You can also help get them excited about lessons by reminding them of the friends they’ll see, skills they’ll conquer, and FINtastic ribbons they’ll get!

Practice Separation at Home

Have your child practice playing independently in a different room than you. Prop up your baby monitor to make sure you can keep an eye and an ear on them, while allowing them to practice their independence! This will help build confidence and decrease separation anxiety – the most prevalent type of anxiety disorder in kiddos under age 2. Though it’s easy to want your little one to be by your side, having some alone time to learn independence and confidence is so important!

Remember, A Calm Parent = A Calm Child

Even in the toughest of situations, children feed off of the energy of their parents. Remaining calm can help your swimmer stay calm, too! And, a little extra support and preparation can go a long way. Packing your swim lesson bag and laying out swimsuits ahead of time can make lessons go more smoothly, and bringing along your kiddo’s favorite bath toy can make lessons extra fun and comfortable for your little one once you get there.

You’re not in it alone! Our swim instructors are specially trained to help kiddos learn to be safer in and around the water, but they are also trained to help kiddos gain confidence and feel comfortable in the water. Afterall, we want them to have FUN! They use kind words, smile often, and encourage swimmers every step of the way.

Jitt, and swimmers alike, sometimes just need a little extra time to ease into lessons. With their parents and swim instructors encouraging them and celebrating their accomplishments, swim lessons can quickly become their favorite day of the week!

Learn more about swim lessons near you, and help give your kiddo the courage to dive in!