Submersion

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Submersion

Submersion
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Dear IA teachers and teacher trainees,

I've got a student (14 months) who dislikes going under even though she generally adores the water and enjoys splashing in the bath, pouring water on the top of her head and putting her head under the tap. In the pool she's a real water baby and a quick learner - loves all the moves, including jumping from the side of the pool and back riding her mom. I just don't understand why diving doesn't work with her. She actually seems to be hurt by the process, choking after every one of them. My opinion is that she learnt to do it wrong in the past and every time she goes under the 'wrong reflex' works. But if this is so, how do we make it work well then? Please help with advice.

Katia
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Sun, Jan 6 2008 6:27 AM In reply to
Phil

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Hi Katia

From what you say it sounds like your little 'water baby' is possibly 'sniffing' and inhaling water through her nose on her submersions. It is not necessarily a case of doing it wrong in the past as doing it wrong, ie. enforced submersions, would produce a much more pronounced reaction than the choking that you are witnessing, eg. anxiety and crying just prior to the dive taking place.

By 14 months a toddler would normally be voluntarily breath holding, which they learn through all the practises that you mentioned above ie splashing, jumping in water over the head etc. plus bubble blowing, rather than relying on baby reflexes. Although saying that, I have older children who do still experience this problem. They tend to hold their breath rather than blow bubbles and inhale through their nose just prior to surfacing. As I am sure you know, water entering down the back of the nasal passages can feel extremely uncomfortable and can hurt which may explain the reaction you are seeing.

I would advise cutting out the diving for the time being. Plenty of encouragement in the practices she enjoys. Lots of work on blowing bubbles (this will set her up for later swimming as bubble blowing has a relaxing stimulus upon the whole body as opposed to breath holding which creates tension). Also encouragement to dip her face, voluntarily, in the water from a static position. I use ring shaped sinkers on the surface and put my face in then encourage mum and child to do the same (I am sure you can think up even more imaginative ideas).

Having listened to Kathy McKay speak at WABC conference this year on child centred learning in the water, this really reinforced for me the message that our own dear Francoise imparts throughout Birthlight. What we do is not for our own egoes (have I spelt that right) or to satisfy a parent's expectation but for the love and well being of the child. Your little one will return to enjoying diving sessions when she is mentally and physically ready, encouraged by your expert guidance.

Good luck and enjoy your sessions.

Phil
Birthlight Tutor (Infant Aquatics)

ps. For those who teach older children. I have a 4 year old who hated his swimming lessons as he always felt uncomfortable with submersion and realised that he was behind his peers with regard to his ability. His Mum persuaded me to let him wear a snorkel mask (a real no, no, in terms of conventional swimming lessons). Within a few weeks he had learnt not to inhale through his nose, now wears ordinary goggles and swims like a little fish (plus now has to be reminded not to be constantly under the water during his lesson)! Success!!

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Sun, Jan 6 2008 6:39 AM In reply to
jo.montgomery

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How about humming with face in the water...it stops water going up the nose!

Jo.

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Sun, Jan 6 2008 10:46 AM In reply to
Katia

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Hi Phil, thank you for your advice. The student does have problems with blowing bubbles, too... Her mom says has been showing her 'how to' for months, but the girl still doesn't copy her. How do we get a young toddler like this to copy things? I mean a 2-3 year old would probably copy well, but it seems to me that 12-18 months olds are the most difficult in this area. She just looks at her mom and enjoys watching, but doesn't even attempt to do the same.

We'll cut out the diving for the moment and will try toys under water as well. Thanks again!

Katia
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Sun, Jan 6 2008 10:53 AM In reply to
Katia

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Hi Jo, yes, we've tried humming face down, she loves watching me and mom 'permorming', but doesn't copy...
Katia
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Sun, Jan 6 2008 11:08 AM In reply to
Phil

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Time and patience. Keep doing all the fun things your doing. Blowing rasberries into the air then into the water, humming as Jo suggested but making it into a song, anything that makes her smile and captures her attention. It will happen.

Phil

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Sun, Jan 6 2008 12:23 PM In reply to
Katia

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Blowing rasberries? How is that?:))
Katia
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Sun, Jan 6 2008 1:05 PM In reply to
janepearson

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Hi Katia

I have also come across this in my classes with a little girl around the same age actually. She is now two years old and is the star of our class, loves riding and seal diving (when she tells mummy she is ready!!!) with Amelia it was most definately an independance thing, once she was able to communicate when she wanted to do it her submersions and seal dives were lovely. She jumped in quite freely throughout this stage, but I find this the norm as again the little one has more control over the action.

We also blow small balls to help the exhalation process (egg flips are really hard to blow), and let the child feel mummy/daddy blowing out by putting their hand to their parents mouth..it takes patience but when it happens they aare so pleased with themselves!!

Good luck

Sara

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Sun, Jan 6 2008 2:45 PM In reply to
Katia

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Hi Sara, thank you for the tips.

I'll try ping pong balls and the other techniques you've mentioned.

Katia
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Wed, Jan 9 2008 3:15 PM In reply to
Katia

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The ping pong balls didn't work. Well, at least not the way I expected. The girl was chasing the balls trying to eat them!! :)

Also, we found it quite difficult to persuade her to blow on the ball. We'll try water toys such as flutes for the bath.

Katia