Mummy Guilt: Forcing My Daughter to Swim

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Bella's first swimming lesson, age 4

This is my second mummy guilt blog post in a row.  Doh!  Bella had her first swimming lesson last week and I felt terribly guilty.  She's never been very brave when it comes to the swimming pool.  She takes ages to relax and will cling on for dear life!   She actually loves having a bath at home but hates the water getting in her eyes.  It’s only now she’s 4.5 years old she’ll tip her head back for us to wash her hair without making a fuss!  Before now we’d have to endure a huge screaming match trying to wash her hair.  The neighbours must have thought we were torturing her! 


Mummy Guilt Forcing My Daughter to Swim Lylia Rose UK Lifestyle Parent Blog


I already knew she wouldn’t just jump in the pool her first swimming lesson, but it was a very guilt filled trip still.  I was actually really proud of her beforehand.  She didn’t make a fuss (perhaps the bribe of a chocolate milkshake if she was brave helped) and went off with the teacher without fuss.  But once in the water I could see her clinging to the teacher and crying most of the lesson.  Insert waves and waves of mummy guilt! 

The lesson is only 1/2 hour and she's been put into the Minnows class for three and four-year-olds rather than the first school age class.  This is the perfect class for her as such a beginner who is nervous in water.   There were just three children in the class last week so she's going to get a lot of attention which will allow her to get used to the water.   

A one point the lady held Bella up whilst waving up to the viewing windows to signal to me to go and get her.   She said Bella needed the toilet which is quite common for children to say in their first lesson.   I thought perhaps it was a trick to get out of the pool, as she’d been to toilet twice before she got in!  Probably nerves!

I'm hoping after a few weeks Bella will start to enjoy it.   It's not that I want to force her to do something she doesn't enjoy, but I feel that swimming is a really important life skill.  It could save her life one day.  Even if I waited a couple of years to give Bella swimming lessons, I’m certain we’d still go through this.  It’s just her nature.  She was nervous at her street dance class for the first two weeks and didn’t want to join in, but now she loves it!  She’s just one of those children that take time to settle into a new environment and situation.  But once she feels comfortable and secure, she’s just fine.

I'd love to hear your experiences with children’s swimming lessons.  Especially if they hated it at first, but perhaps now they absolutely love it.  I think it will stop me feeling so mean!  Do share your experiences in the comments.



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  1. WhatLydDid

    Even if she never loves water, she will be so glad that you arranged for her to learn this valuable life skill! It's not just a hobby, swimming is exercise, and will increase her confidence and co-ordination. Keeping up with those despite the tantrums and mum guilt is a sign of what a good parent you are! VICTORIA --->> Thank you so much! She's had four lessons now and the difference is incredible! She wants to go now and gets ready in her swimming costume without a fuss. I'm so pleased I started and the mummy guilt has gone! :D

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  2. Nuala aka Designingnu

    My son was a bit like that and if he was in the right learning level / range think he would of stayed. But he thought they were bullies as in the beginning he struggled as he was a lower level and got bored. Then few weeks later they had new learners and he was too fast for the newbies. He was left to wait got bored then told off a lot so hated it. So we stopped it as he liked swimming or paddling about with a belt that is a float. Now we're taking him back after 2 years and he is more grown up. But as a family first just joined a club with a gym so mine didn't go well But the set up at yours sounds good. ? *VICTORIA* - Oh that doesn't sound good! Bella had her 3rd lesson today, wanted to go and no tears at all, really enjoyed it! I can't believe the difference in only three weeks, it's mad! I think the right teacher makes all the difference :)

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  3. Samantha B

    Don't worry; my son didn't enjoy his first swimming lessons either, I found it really upsetting and it didn't help when the mother in law (who I took for moral support) made comments like 'oh look he swims like a brick' and 'oh look he's gone right under' etc ?. Anyway he's 11 now and is a fantastic swimmer. I think the 3rd or 4th lesson is the magic one, I clearly remember the day he cried because the lesson had finished. A Mum win. Good luck! *VICTORIA* - I'm proud to say her 3rd lesson was today and no tears, just smiles! So happy and she enjoyed it today! Can't believe the difference. I was expecting tears for at least 6 weeks!! :)

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  4. It will take some time to cope up with the lessons but i am sure she will learn it soon. ***VICTORIA'S REPLY*** She's had two now and the 2nd went so much better than I was expecting. I'll see how the 3rd goes and perhaps write an update! Hopefully a very positive one :)

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  5. Julie

    My youngest didn't take to water like a fish. He would cling to me like a barnacle. He hated group swimming lessons with a vengeance. He also hated putting his head under the shower. Then I found a lovely swimming teacher who took both my children together, at a private pool which is a constant depth. Having big sister around made him confident enough to give it a go. Within weeks he was putting his head under water and he can now swim. He also showers without making a fuss. I think it's down to finding the right instructor, who will take the time to earn your child's trust *VICTORIA'S REPLY* That's great to hear! The pool my daughter is at is a learner pool so she can stand by herself the whole length. I think the instructor is definitely important. Turns out a friend of mine had the same instructor with one of her children and says her son made the most progress with her. So fingers crossed the same with my daughter :) Hopefully she'll be like your son and less afraid of water in the face very soon. I think that's her fear - getting water in her face/eyes.

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  6. Please don't force her into swimming at such a young age if she's not ready for it and is scared as it can result in a real phobia of swimming. Take her to "play"in the water with you and just let her sit on the edge with her feet in the water at first. Get a paddling pool for at home in the summer. Put out a bowl of water so she can "teach" her doll to.swim. Don't forget that as swimming is part of the school curriculum she will have lessons at a later stage, usually in KS2, and being with school friends can be a real help. I'm a primary school assistant headteacher by the way *** VICTORIA'S REPLY *** We took her swimming a few times before so she knew the pool. She also loves playing with water in the garden at home. Glad to say she had her second lesson this weekend and came out with a big smile on her face :) She said 'Mummy look I'm smiling!'. Hopefully next week will be the same. Another friend says her son had about 6 weeks of crying, but now she can't get him out of the pool! This week the swimming teacher said they nearly all cry in their first few lessons, so it's totally normal :)

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  7. volcanopete

    Some things just have to be done.We are an island with many rivers surrounded by seas. *** Victoria's Reply *** So happy she enjoyed her second lesson much more and came out the pool smiling!

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