Okay, I have hit a parenting wall and I am hoping that some of you will be able to advise me.
My older four children take a swimming lesson every Tuesday afternoon. In the past, my younger ones have sort of hung out poolside, been a little bit of a discipline problem while waiting or played with other kids who were waiting. Right now, though, I would also like them to learn to swim.
I didn’t want to come to the pool on a different day for a preschool lesson, so I arranged a private lesson to coincide with the big kid lesson. For 6 weeks, my boys happily participated in their private lesson. The cost was substantial, but I figured that they were getting better instruction in a private and I was getting a convenient time slot, so it was worth it.
Gradually, over the last three weeks, my 4 year old has been refusing to participate. The first week, he wanted to get out early, when about 10 minutes of the lesson remained. The next week, he refused to get in, and again missed 10 minutes of the 30 minute lesson. This time, as soon as the instructor came into sight, he buried his head in my lap. I told him it was time for swimming and he said he “needed Mommy.” I offered to sit at the side of the pool, but he wouldn’t come out of my lap. Then, I took him into a private area and told him in strong tone that this was unacceptable and he needed to do his swimming lesson. At that point, he burst into tears. I sat him down on a bench and he proceeded to cry for the entire half hour, sometimes kicking the bleachers and sometimes screaming that he wanted to sit in my lap. The people around me were horrified. Meanwhile, the 3 year old happily went about his swimming lesson.At the very end the tantrum stopped and he told his teacher that he would swim next week, but then again in the locker room a few minutes later he told me that he doesn’t want to do swimming lessons anymore.
What do I do? I can’t make him get in the pool, and I hate the idea of continuing to pay for lessons while he is not participating. However, if he gets to sit in my lap while the other 5 kids are all in lessons, I feel like he will have won the power struggle? Plus, I really need him to learn to swim, we have a pool in our backyard. But maybe I should just give it time? Do I try again next week, or should I just withdraw from the session and get my money back? Was it just a bad day, combined with the fact that I did let him get out early that time a few weeks ago, and now he is trying to see how far he can take it?