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My Daughter Refuses to Attend her Swimming Classes!

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

May 21, 2019

Question

My daughter is 4.5 years old. I stopped taking her to swimming lessons, even though she had been going for a whole year and loved the lessons; all of a sudden she refused to do them. She was cry and scream, sometimes I couldn't even get her into the pool, she absolutely refused and in the end, I stopped taking her. Now, the same thing has happened with gymnastics lessons, she has been going for over a year and has always loved it, was a little shy at first, but during the year got more and more confident and always looked forward to the lessons. The last 2 lessons she refused to do anything at all. She just keeps saying "I don't want to do it, I don't like it", I tried asking why and if something happened but I can't get an answer apart from that she doesn't want to do it anymore. I'm not sure, perhaps something small happened like the teacher saying something or she made a small mistake and got a reaction from another child and it was enough to shatter her confidence? I don't know the reason, but I really don't want to stop the lessons, she has always enjoyed them, I worry if I stop then she will know that every time she refuses to do something I will give in and she doesn't have to do it anymore. But then again, I don't want to force her if she doesn't want to do it. My question is: What should I do if my child shows no interest in sports? Do I risk turning her off of sports and activity if I “force her” to do them?

Counselor

Answer


Swimming

In this counseling answer:

•Try to find out what may have happened at swimming classes.

•Perhaps talk to the teacher to see if she became afraid of doing a certain lesson if she was teased or dunked underwater by one of her classmates.

•I would not recommend forcing her sister especially as she has such a strong negative reaction. I would suggest finding out why this has occurred


As salamu alaykum,

Thank you for writing for us.  For five years old is a challenging age indeed!  It is great that you have engaged your daughter in so many positive activities. This will help with self-confidence, social skills as well as cultivate new interests in the future.

As you stated she suddenly did not want to swim anymore and would scream and cry whenever you attempted to take her, it is possible that she got scared during a lesson or that something happened. This fear may have transferred to gymnastics. I would encourage you sister to try to find out what may have happened at swimming classes.

Perhaps talk to the teacher to see if she became afraid of doing a certain lesson if she was teased or dunked underwater by one of her classmates. While there may be no reason other than an active imagination (common at this age) it is best to try to find out if indeed something did happen.

karim serageldin & naaila clay

You may also Insha’Allah sit with your daughter and engage in a coloring activity.  You may want to ask her to color a picture of her and the family, of her swimming, doing gymnastics as well as other things.

If she is willing, her pictures may show you what has happened (if anything) or may give you insight as to why she no longer wants to participate in these activities. Often times children can better express what they are feeling in art mode instead of talking.

It may be that she went through a frightening experience while learning a new swimming technique and the teacher may have insisted she continue to try as part of the learning experience. Or it could be that your daughter just truly isn’t interested in these activities anymore and is expressing this through defiant behaviors.

Once you have ruled out any possible trauma, Please do Insha’Allah ask her what activity she is interested in.  Ask her to name a few things she likes doing. If she is able to name interests, please do get her involved in the ones she enjoys.  At this age shyness and critical self-awareness may be a hindrance to trying new things. Try to encourage her by pointing out all her accomplishments as well as assuring her you will be staying for the entire lesson should she need you.


Check out this counseling video


 

I would not recommend forcing her sister especially as she has such a strong negative reaction. I would suggest finding out why this has occurred  insha’Allah.  If you try to force her, you may be met with more resistance and increased fear. Try to work with her on choices, stating that you want her to learn new things and take classes for enjoyment and attainment of new skills, but give her a choice.

I went through this when my daughter was 5.5.  I enrolled her in a youth class at the gym I went to and she did not want to go. I made her, explaining she would like it once she got familiar with the teacher and routine. Well, when we went she refused to participate and just sat on the bench. I waited for awhile while class began hoping she would join in. She didn’t.

The teacher encouraged me to go exercise that she would be fine and that she could watch. I explained to my daughter I would be in the next room and to watch the class today. When I returned tears were rolling down her face and she was in terms same spot. Years later I asked her why, she said: “mom, I was scared to death, I didn’t know anyone there gheesh”.  My lesson learned.  Thinking back I found it strange as a few months later she joined 3 classes and activities

My lesson learned. Thinking back I found it strange as a few months later she joined 3 classes and activities successfully. However at that moment, in that time she could not get over her fear of the unknown.

Perhaps this is what is happening with your daughter as well I don’t know.  Insha’Allah, sister, it will be a passing phase as with my daughter.  In the meantime, find out if there was a trauma, encourage her to pick a few activities she is interested in and continue to praise her abilities and choices.  Insha’Allah  if there were not any trauma or scares she went through, she will soon get over this phase and return to the active happy little girl she was.

You are in our prayers, please let us know how she is doing.

***

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About Aisha Mohammad

Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word poetry projects.

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