Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Forced Submersion Leaves A Child Traumatized, What Do You Do?

Answer Me This About Forced Submersion

A child aged 3 years has attended a series of swimming lessons in a program at another centre. As a result of 'forced submersion' during a swimming lesson the child is traumatized.

Due to the child's lack of progress from the swimming lessons, the parent enrols the child in your class. The parent believes the child is "perfect" and has strong verbal and physical control over the child.

Answer the following questions

Why might the child be showing lack of progress?

The first and most obvious conclusion would be that the lack of progress is due to S/He being traumatized by being ‘forced’ dunked. However the parental control may be a factor. Depending on what is meant by the parent seeing the child as perfect.

Image of Tramatized: This article is about forced submesion in childrens swim class
You will "never" be made to do
anything in my swim class you do not want to

What I Would do

If this were my first contact with the child and parent, I would begin by introducing my self to the child and parent. I would approach the traumatizing of the child firstly by assuring the child that they ‘will never be asked to do anything in my class that they do not want to. That I may try and talk them into it but in the end if they say no they will not be made to.’ I would the set about keeping my promise.

The next thing I would do is to give the Child the Right to tell me they are scared. The child has the right to feel safe at all times and I would continue to assure the child that it is OK to be scared but that you can be afraid and still be safe.

Having laid the ground rules I would then set about finding out what the child was comfortable with and what they were willing and able to do.

For example in this scenario with the child is possibly reluctant to put their head under water. It is most important in this case that swimming is seen as fun. If the child was not completely freaked out by the prospect of getting splashed I would begin my class with sitting on the edge kicking making as much splashing as possible.

From there I proceed as follows:
  • Kicking on the edge no splashing working on pointing toes
  • Kicking in the water working on pointed toe and assisting in developing straight legs. Singing songs like “this is the way” helps in keeping this fun and the children motivated.
  • Blowing bubbles
  • Getting our nose wet
  • Ears wet
  • Hair wet

Time To Assess

At this point it should be clear what the child is willing to do and what they are not. Getting their head under water is going to happen with encouragement in the child’s own time. The sort of assistance I would give is offering to hold the child’s hands as they went underwater but that I will not move my hands. That is my hands are there, as support for the child not to physically move the child where they don’t want to go.

Stating With The Float

I would then work on floating. Floating, once they have the hang of it helps a child to feel stable in an unstable environment. This helps instil confidence and allows for development in all areas.

I would assist the child by supporting their head arms and body assuring the child all the time that they are safe and that I wont let them go unless they give me permission. What I mean by this is that I explain to the child once they are stable in my arms and I am sure they are relaxed that I will not let go of their head but I want to let go of there arms “is that OK?” If they don’t agree I assure them that I will not let their head go under. If eventually I can’t get them to agree I will help them up by explaining how to get up and assisting that move i.e. “put your chin on your chest, bring your knees up, lower your arms and stand up”. If they did agree I would then ask them permission in the same way as before, if I could remove another support hand and so on.

There are a verity of other activities would include such as floating and kicking front and back with kickboards, mats, noodles etc. and lots of games and songs.

Next Question

Describe the approach you would use with the parent, in order to help the child?

If it were to become apparent the parents presents is a factor in the child not progressing then there are at least two possible courses of action that may be taken.

Given that the child is old enough to not have the parent in the water with them, the parent could be politely asked to leave while the lesson is on. Pointing out to the parent that the child is deferring to them all the time and thus not getting the full benefit of the instruction.

Or (And this would be my preference)

To take the time to explain to the parent what I am doing every step of the way and getting them on side thus enlisting their help. This sometimes has the side benefit indirectly of the parent gaining a different view of how to approach the child on some things.

Enjoy
   Richard




Enjoy
   Richard

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