Parents Interfering With Swimming Lessons

I have a problem with parents interfering with swimming lessons. I teach at the local YMCA in my town. I have 2-3 year olds. Some of the students are progressing beautifully, while others not. Is it possible that the parents could be the problem?


There is one student in particular that has both parents there with her and she just screams the whole time, and has total control over the parents with this. She is just completely resistant, but at times chooses on her own to suddenly get her hair wet (in the baby pool) or attempt to use a floating device. But if the parent/s get involved, she screams.

Even while seeing all the other kids making progress with their parents. What would be the best advice for this family? I'd really like to see this child to shift to a more positive response, but I feel like the parents are holding her back by being over sensitive to her fake crying.


I have personally come across this problem many times before so I am with you on this one!

There is nothing worse than a stubborn child attempting to control your class. Especially when she is perfectly capable of doing what you are asking of her but just chooses not to.

If the parents are the problem, or even contributing factor, then they must be removed. As a swimming teacher you are ultimately responsible for making sure your pupils learn. If you were a school teacher or college lecturer and an outside influence was hindering the progress of your pupils then it would be removed.

A polite yet professional conversation needs to be had with the parents of this child. Explain that their presence on the poolside is a distraction to their daughter that could be holding back her progress. You are the professional here and the parents should respect you and respect your wishes. After all it is their daughter’s future water safety that is ultimately on the line here.

Maybe suggest a trial period of 2 or 3 lessons without them on the poolside to see how she and you get on. She may scream the first time but go with it and persevere.

If for any reason it is not possible for the parents to leave the poolside (maybe there is a health and safety requirement for the parents to be there at all times) then see if they can sit out of sight of their daughter. If that is a problem then they must understand that they should ignore her during the lesson and allow you to be in control.

Once again a polite and professional conversation will ensure they understand and respect your wishes.

Then maybe refocus her with some games or demonstrations from other pupils. The lack of someone sympathetic to scream at might just get her progressing nicely.

I hope you find this information helpful and I wish you every success with your swimming lessons.

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