We’d been having problems with swimming lessons. Squirm used to love them and was doing really well. Then, all of a sudden, they became the worst things in the world. Squirm wouldn’t do any of the skills he’s learned and he was upset the whole lesson. I was on the verge of finishing lessons (a tricky thing involving 4 weeks notice) when I turned to Google for advice.
Turned out that it wasn’t uncommon for children of Squirm’s age to go through this sort of thing. While I was happy that it was normal, knowing that didn’t help me deal with it. But one comment on a forum did – the commenter suggested taking time to adjust before the lesson started.
Of course! The realisation hit me like a tonne of bricks. After all, Squirm usually felt better about swimming by the end of the lesson. Turning up early was such an easy thing to do and it fit in with other things we are starting to notice in Squirm.
Squirm doesn’t always do well in intense situations – noise and chaos are not always his friends. Shopping centres have a limited time before Squirm loses it, so I plan trips on how few shops we can visit. When Squirm meets up with adults other than Mr Pilot or myself, it takes him time to adjust and warm up to them – even if he sees them regularly. We’ve noticed that he does best when we approach situations slowly – when we give Squirm time to warm up to the environment and the people around him.
Sometimes it’s difficult to remember this. Although I have a certain amount of social anxiety leading up to an event, I’m usually fine when I get there. I usually find someone to talk to quickly, even in situations where I don’t know anyone. It’s natural for me to put myself right in the middle of things – but I need to remember that it’s not natural for Squirm.
I need to give him the time he needs to adjust to new environments, sit with him in a quiet spot and talk him through what is going on. I need to let him take in people from a bit of a distance before insisting that he ‘talks’ with them. I need to honour his personality and his needs – and remember that those are different from my own.
Taking our time worked wonderfully with swimming. We arrived about 15 minutes earlier than usual, and watched the water while he got ready. Luckily the child in the class before ours was away on that day, so we were able to sit quietly next to the pool and just chill out talking about the lovely water and how good it would feel. And the lesson was a huge success – a 180 degree turn around from the last few weeks before. Sometimes it really pays to take our time.