Encouraging Your Children To Overcome Their Fears

Happy Sunday, you guys!  Sunday has become my favorite day of the week over the past couple of months.  There are lots of reasons why; we have church service in the evening, usually an easy bedtime, I get a shower in (haha), I get to prepare for the school week with Emily, there's a lot of hope on Sunday for the coming week!  

I've really been trying to consciously be aware of my fears this month.  I'm not talking about fears like my fear of spiders or my husband's fear of heights.  I'm talking about fears that are inside my head.  The fear of being alone, the fear of being embarrassed, the fear of failure.  That's a whole other post, so moving on...!

I've been trying to talk to Emily about her fear of swim lessons.  I don't know why she had a fear of going, she used to like to go but one day something changed.  She never really liked going under water and I can't really blame her.  Going under water sucks!  For me, not knowing how to swim and having to hold my nose, going under water is a no-go for me, but I try for my babies...you know, to show them it's not scary (even though I'm dying inside! haha).  Brody has been going to swim lessons and loves it every single time.  I wish we would have started Emily in lessons earlier, but we didn't.  

The thing that changed for Emily was when we went to a Family Swim night at our Goldfish Swim School.  She and Brody both wore goggles and just like that, we had two little fish in the water!  They both loved going under at that point and I guess we realized that it was all about water getting in Emily's eyes that was the problem.  Scott and I were both shocked when we were watching how brave Emily was being and we were so happy, too!

Two weeks ago, it had been about three months since Emily had been to a swim lesson and I felt like it was time to try again.  I told her that she had a class coming up that week and she was actually on board with it!  She told me how excited she was go show her teacher that she could go under!  I couldn't wait to see how her class went because the past classes had been cut short due to her screaming and crying and me pulling her out before disrupting the entire class, so...I was pretty nervous myself.  

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Before her swim lesson I made sure to let her know my expectations.  I wanted her to have a fun, happy, excited class and to listen to her teacher.  She did just that.  I could not have been more proud of her!  She, I don't know, went in with a different mindset this time maybe.  She was happy and smiling, giving me thumbs up the whole time, she was paying attention and was happy as can be once she was done.  She didn't even want to get out of the pool when it was time, she wanted to show me again what she could do.  I was overjoyed seeing her come this far!

I've come up with a little list if things to do that helped Emily face her fear, here it is:

  1. Give permission to have that fear

    • It's okay and normal for kids to be afraid of doing something they haven't done before. I let Emily know that when I was little I was scared to swim too and we talked about why it's important to learn.

  2. Have a plan and verbalize it

    • Like I mentioned above, going into the swim school I let Emily know the plan, step by step. We're going to park the car, go inside, use the potty, change into our swimsuit, color a picture, go to out lane, meet our teacher, have a happy and fun swim lesson, dry our hair, and get into out jammies. once all that is done we can get a lollipop! When kids know what to expect, at least with Emily, it's way easier for her to accept what I say it's time to do!

  3. Scare your fears away

    • When Emily still is having a hard time with something and is scared of it, we do a funny little scare tactic that has seemed to work. I tell her to picture whatever it is she's scared of and yell "BOOOOOOOO!" and scare it away. She likes playing this game and I do too!

  4. Talk about your fears

    • No matter what you're talking about it's always good to have open communication. Kids can have a skewed outlook on things but that's just how they think at their age. If one of my kiddos is trying to tell me they're scared of something, no matter how silly it may be, I'll never be one to downplay her fears or her happy times! I want Emily to feel comfortable talking to me about anything.

  5. Teach a coping skill

    • Something I like to do when I'm anxious or nervous is pray. Emily is a little too young, in my opinion, to put that together in her mind that it can help her, so instead, we sing. We sing a song to help calm us down.

  6. Reward for bravery

    • No, I don't like always rewarding behavior, good or bad, but it's fun for her to have something to look forward to after her swim lesson and let's be honest, who's here to judge right? Oh and if you are here to judge, go bye-bye.

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This little list has helped me regarding Emily's swim lessons and so far she's doing amazing!  Here's to hoping next week is just as good!  To learn more about Goldfish Swim School click here!

Thank you Goldfish Swim School for sponsoring this post.