Overcoming Water Wobbles

19 Oct 2018

We've always been quite lucky that Willow loves water, whether it's bath time or swimming, she absolutely adores it. Since she started swimming at 11 months old she has amazed me at how well she manages in the water and how quickly she picks things up, too. So imagine our surprise earlier in the year when we hit the dreaded water wobbles. Trips to swimming would be protested with screams and hysterical tears, she'd do whatever she could to avoid going in the water and when in the water, she'd do whatever she could to climb back out again.

A photo of a swimming lesson for a feature on overcoming water wobbles
A photo of a swimming lesson for a feature on overcoming water wobbles
It was horrible to see her react so badly to something which has, ever since she started, been her absolute favourite thing to do each week. I was in tears myself at points seeing her react the way she was and I felt so sorry for her, that something she once adored seemed to be causing her such distress. Whilst we did encourage her to keep at it, if she became really upset I did take her out of the pool as the last thing I wanted was to give her a genuine fear of swimming, let alone see her so upset. It was heartbreaking to be quite honest.

At one point, after 3 or 4 weeks of the same reaction, I was ready to call it quits and just stop trying altogether, as I didn't want to see her upset anymore, but her wonderful swimming instructors told us to keep at it and even gave us a name for her sudden fear of swimming, water wobbles. We did some research online, took on their advice to keep bringing her and encouraging her to get back in the water and I decided to buy her a swimming themed book, to see if that would help her get excited about swimming again.

We love the Campbell Busy Books, as they're great for a short story but are also interactive, with things to do to make the story come alive a little, so Busy Swimming seemed like the perfect option. Whilst it doesn't directly address water wobbles, it is a fun little story about different swimming situations and it seemed to do the trick, because Willow wanted to read it over and over again and just a few short days after it arrived when we headed to her next swimming lesson, she was excited again to get in the pool!

When it comes to water wobbles I do think the key thing to do is persevere. If we'd given up when it started to become a regular weekly thing, Willow may not have found her love for swimming again and all the hard work she'd put in since 11 months could have been wasted. Instead, we stuck at it, went to every lesson as planned, encouraged her and helped her in whatever way we could, as well as her instructors being hugely supportive and guiding us in how to approach her water wobbles. The book, for us, did massively help - Willow is a big bookworm like me and books are an easy way to get her interested in something, so I'm glad I followed my instinct on trying that!

Water wobbles can happen at any time, at any age, even for the most confident and well-practised swimmers. If your little one experiences water wobbles, try not to panic, just give them all the encouragement you can and ensure they know they are safe and well looked after. All of us have 'life wobbles' at some point or another, so going through something like this is nothing for them to feel ashamed of and although it can be difficult to see them go through it, and frustrating, just remember there is an end in sight if you persevere.