How do you conquer tactile sensitivities and swimming?

I hear it all the time..."I can't get my child to go under..." "They love to swim but they won't put their face in." "Can you help?"

Yes I can! Tactile sensitivity is real and the number one rule to helping them is giving it absolute validity. For some kids, diagnosed or not, going under feels like jumping off a cliff. If there is fear, there is often a breath reaction of a sort of a gasp that brings water into their mouths and nose choking them and causing discomfort. Thus, there is a negative response to going under. It makes perfect sense right?

The antidote is baby steps, well fitting goggles, and practice of breath control. I teach either breathing out through the nose, or sometimes breath holding to help a child overcome their fear of going under. If they are extremely sensitive, I give in and let them hold their nose, just to get some repetition with going under, period. From there we can peel off the nose hold and develop the breathing out.

It also helps to use a method of approach/retreat which is common in training horses! We might work on an area of struggle, like going under, make a tiny bit of progress and switch to something else. Then we might come back for a few trys, and then switch again to something else. The rhythm and flow of "doing" creates more ease and less focus on the struggle. This is very helpful with the quirky ones who usually need to be moving to process anyway!

I have never, not succeeded in helping a child through these issues. It might take some time sometimes, for I do not believe in dunking or throwing them in the deep end. I believe in empowerment, and helping them find their own skills their way...

Each child is unique in what they need and when, to accomplishing moving through tactile issues and fear. That is why my lessons are small, short, and focused.


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