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Is it an accepted practice for swim instructors to dunk children?

My 18 month old and I are in swim lessons and today was our second day. My son is somewhat behind the class because he is a little bit afraid, and most of the other kids have been in lessons before. Today the instructor asked to take my son so he could "zoom" him to me. Then he blew hard in my sons face, dunked him under, and pushed him towards me. My son did not inhale water but he cried and wanted out of the pool immediately. I kept him in the water until he calmed down, and by that time it was time to end the lesson anyway.

I have heard of this method of getting a child to hold his breath, but it sounded so archaic and mean that I didn't think anyone did it anymore. Is this standard practice? I can't decide if I should mention it to the pool manager or what.


Asked by getrealmama at 6:16 PM on Jul. 20, 2010 in Toddlers (1-2)

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This question is closed.
Answers (14)
  • I took lessons for about 8 years and swam all my life and I've never seen this done and don't agree with it at all.
    did the pool tell you this was going to be done?
    maybe the teacher thought you already knew about it.

    I don't agree with doing this particularly with a child that is already scared. I don't think safe has much to do with it.
    I'd speak to the pool, and if this is what they do I'd see if there is another place more suited for your son.

    granted, there may be kids that are OK with it, but if your son is not, then this is probably not the method for him to learn to swim.

    Answer by ItsMe89 at 6:51 PM on Jul. 20, 2010

  • it is a very normal practice in teaching babies to swim. i myself use this when getting my babies used to the water.

    Answer by cassie_m at 6:19 PM on Jul. 20, 2010

  • It is teaching water safety. The BEST thing you can do is to assure him that he is safe, and not coddle him when he cries. If you are at ease in the water, he will be too.
    This method is best used with younger infants, and is HIGHLY effective. I was a "waterbaby", I grew up in the pool and was swimmin on my own (without swimmies) before I was 2.

    My question to you, is would you rather him learn to be safe, and have to cope with him being initially fearful, or would you simply rather he not learn at all?

    Answer by ObbyDobbie at 6:21 PM on Jul. 20, 2010

  • LOL how did you expect them to "teach" an 18 month old to swim? Yes, that is common technique when "teaching" children who are not old enough to actually swim.

    Answer by Anonymous at 6:19 PM on Jul. 20, 2010

  • Yeah, it's a very safe way to get them to hold their breath. It also works when trying to get them to swallow medicine. :-) He'll get used to it.

    Answer by Kiwismommy19 at 6:21 PM on Jul. 20, 2010

  • I have to agree with these ladies - this method has been used successfully for a very long time. Your child was in no real danger and if you overreact, so will your son.

    Answer by neebug3766 at 6:26 PM on Jul. 20, 2010

  • Yes it is very common, I was the meanie who had to do this. I taught swimming classes to babies for about 2 years! It is completely fine and completely safe!

    Answer by mrsmamaj at 6:26 PM on Jul. 20, 2010

  • I didn't know they taught lessons that young. I think I would freak out if someone put my baby under water. But, that's just me.

    Answer by Krystal.Ingalls at 6:42 PM on Jul. 20, 2010

  • They teach lessons beginning at 6 months, but the parents are in the water with the babies. Clearly, babies this little are not going to learn to swim in 2 weeks. But the stuff we are learning is really smart - first, learn to hold onto the side and support your own weight. Then, learn to crawl along the side to get to the stairs. That stuff is 100% ok by me! And some of the kids my son's age are little fish, jumping in, being crazy and fearless. But they have had more experience and they have different personalities. I have a shy guy who is cautious and doesn't take big risks. Dunking him on the second day of lessons just doesn't seem appropriate when he is not even holding onto the side yet!

    Comment by getrealmama (original poster) at 6:51 PM on Jul. 20, 2010

  • Not all lessons are done this way but I do know it's common. I took my son at 2 for lessons at the Y and it was all about getting the kids comfortable in the water. Dunking kids won't necessarily do this. If you child is fearful, you might want to find a program that takes a gentler approach. At just over 3, my son is swimming and we never did the forced dunking thing. However, I readily admit that my son has had very little fear of the water and happily flings himself under.

    Answer by momofryan07 at 7:19 PM on Jul. 20, 2010