I Want My Son To Learn To Swim But He Doesn’t Want To, What Do I Do?

May 1, 2017

May is National Water Safety Month and we are getting prepared to enroll Joel and Elle into our towns summer youth swimming program again. I love going to the pool and the beach even though I don’t really know how to swim. The ZAC Foundation’s vision is to create a generational change in how water safety is viewed by parents and their children and I want my children to learn how to swim or at the minimum just have basic water safety skills.

We enrolled Joel and Elle in swimming lessons last year with our town. He was 4 and she was 2. When I asked Elle if she wanted to take swimming lessons this year she was ecstatic and thought she was going swim right away. Now when I asked Joel about swimming lessons he couldn’t say “no” fast enough.

Joel loved going to swimming lessons but would stay on the stairs.

It was obvious last year that my munchkin Joel was very afraid of the water. Like deathly afraid. He took swimming lessons M-F for 4 weeks and every lesson was a struggle to get him into the water. We would spend every morning talking him up to actually go into the pool and we went so far as offering bribes of some of his favorite things like toys, candy, movies, and visiting places he loved as a reward like the museum or Chuck E Cheeses.

As the summer went on Joel would go down a few more stairs – YAY!

Don’t do that. Don’t look at me like that. You bribe your kids too! I did it with love, I wanted to motivate him to face his fears and get in the water. But every day he would only go down a few steps never actually getting into the pool. Towards the end of the month Joel was able to get into the pool and would let the instructors take him across the pool but only if he they held him closely to their chest in a tight monkey hold.

Here’s a video of Joel letting coach team bring him off the stairs and into the pool my poor baby was soooo scared.  Here’s another video of Joel jumping into the pool into Mr. Tim’s arms.

While Joel didn’t learn many of the swimming skills that the other kids were being taught he did make great strides. He went from going in to the very top step and holding the hand rail for dear life to trusting his instructors enough to let them take him across the pool.

Last day of swimming with Mr. Tim and Ms. Elaine

So you can understand why he doesn’t want to go swimming anymore, but I really need your advise on something. Water safety is important and while he doesn’t want to take swimming lessons this summer do you think as his parents we should still enroll him anyways for his own good?

Water safety isn’t limited to just the pool, here is some information from the ZAC Foundation on Bath Safety.

Help Keep Others Safe By Sharing The A, B, C, D’s Of Water Safety

A is for Adult – Never let children be alone near a pool, ocean, lake, or river
B is for Barrier – Have a fence that goes around your pool

C is for Classes – Kids and adults should take safety classes

D is for Drains – Team all swimmers to stay away from all pool & spa drains

Do you know the difference between a safe pool drain and a dangerous one? Watch This Video!

Sign up for the ZAC Foundation newsletter to stay updated and get info on how you can help advance water safety.


The ZAC Foundation would like to giveaway a water safety prize pack including: a bag, towel, book, water watcher card, t-shirt and wristband

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends on May 26, 2017
Winners will be randomly selected and notified by The ZAC Foundation by June 1

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Keziah Gibbons May 8, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    I wouldn’t enroll him this year because he may not be ready yet but I would talk to him about facing his fears and that as long as mommy and daddy are there to cheer you on, you will be safe. I would take him along to watch Elle and the other children learn and play in the water and as he watches, he will develop the courage to want to learn about the water. I hope this helps!

  • Reply Lindsay May 10, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    That’s a vey interesting article! Thank you for sharing your experience. 🙂

  • Reply Jenna May 10, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    Oh, that’s tough! Yeah, I would definitely try to encourage it…my bf still can’t swim and he misses out on a lot!

  • Reply Alicia-Joy Pierre May 10, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    I can’t so much as give you advice, but I can say you are making steps in the right direction and you like you said he is ‘making strides’. It’s so hard to force kids to do something they don’t want to do. Kudos to you for not trying to do that. But I do understand your dilemma. Perhaps he’ll change in time (if he wants to, of course). I know there were certain things I absolutely, resolutely refused to do at some points in my childhood, and then, suddenly, I was like, I’ll try it. LOL It’s amazing how we develop.

    Good luck with it!

  • Reply nida May 10, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    same happens with me .. my son start screaming and crying .. but still i am trying to made him swim … best of luck to you

  • Reply Dylan May 10, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    I would encourage him to for sure but I wouldn’t force it either as you would not want to establish him being fearful of other things you encourage him to do in his life. I hope he’ll come around to the idea because you definitely want him to be safe around the water

  • Leave a Reply