Since I currently work as a behavior interventionist, most of my income comes from the client that I work with during the school year. However, because the school year is over, and since my job pays me an incredibly small sum for all of the work I do, I have to supplement my income during the summer months by teaching swim lessons. I’ve taught lessons in the past, and I love the water, so it’s not something that I totally hate doing. It would be awesome if I didn’t have to work at all this summer, but since I do, I’m at least lucky that I don’t have to spend my days locked away in some office all day.

As you can probably guess, there are some people out there who are naturals in the water. These are the type of clients that you hope for. They make your job a million times easier because (A) you don’t have to try and get them to stop fearing the water and (B) they pick up on things really quickly. On the other hand, there are also individuals out there who are the complete opposite of the people I just described. Throughout my time as a swim instructor, I have been lucky enough to have a good number of clients who are naturals, but since my luck isn’t perfect, I’ve also had quite a few who were terrified of the water. One of the kids that I work with now, is the latter.

I’ve only been working with this child for a couple of days, but from the first time I stepped into the water with her I could tell she was going to be a challenge. I won’t tell you her age in order to protect the innocent, but just know that she’s in elementary school. Before the lesson started, her dad was telling me that they have been trying to get her to learn how to swim since she was three years old, but since she’s an anxious child, she can’t seem to get comfortable enough in the water to learn how to do it. After having this conversation with her dad, I was able to get in the water with her and experience the extent of her anxiety for myself. The first day she was so scared that she had to hold my hands to feel comfortable going under the water. When we practiced floating on her back, she was holding on to me for dear life. During her time using the kickboard, she wanted me to hold on to it, even though the whole purpose of using the kickboard is so that it can help you stay afloat while your practicing your kicks. We also practiced climbing out of the pool without a ladder, and coming back in from that same spot. Even though we were in the shallow part of the pool that she was tall enough to stand in, she was still terrified, and I had to basically lift her up out of the water myself. And once she was out, she hung on to my shoulders, like I was her only life line, when she slid back inside. That being said, by the time the lesson was over, she was loads better than she was when we first started.

The next day that I came back, she was even quicker to adjust. She was significantly less scared than she was the previous day. She even started using the kickboard by herself. We ran into a problem, however, when she tried to slide in the water on her own. She said that she wanted to do it by herself. After she sat there for a few minutes trying to build up her courage to do it on her own, I told her that I would help her do it like I had done the previous day. She said, “No.” She told me that she had to do it by herself. After a few more attempts, she ended up giving up. She wouldn’t let me help her in the pool, so she stood up and walked in using the steps. The look I saw on her face was one of complete and utter defeat. When I talked to her she said that she was mad at herself for not being able to do it. She beat herself down some more, and then she told me that she should be able to do it because her little sister could swim by herself and she was only five. In that moment I told her not to be so hard on herself. She can’t compare herself to her sister because she’s not her sister. I confided in her that I didn’t learn how to swim until I was her age, and that that was okay. Everyone figures it out at different ages, and just because it’s taking her a little bit longer to learn doesn’t mean that she won’t learn. I also told her to focus on the progress that she had made already. In one day she went from needing my hand to go under water to being able to do it on her own. She also was able to hold her breath as we kicked all the way across the width of the pool. After I told her this, she agreed to keep swimming and to focus on the strides that she was continuing to make. And because she did this, she was able to improve even more during that day.

Nine times out of ten, we’re usually our worst critics. We’re hard on ourselves because we know what we want, and because we know what we want, we want to achieve it as soon as possible. But the thing is, you move at the pace that you’re supposed to be moving at. You can’t expect yourself to move at the same speed as someone else because you’re not that person. We forget that sometimes, but it’s a very important thing to remember. Yes, you may not be going at the rate you want to, but you are moving at one that works for you positive thinker. And if you ever get discouraged, don’t start to beat yourself down like my client did. Instead, try and find the good things that you’re doing and focus on those things to motivate you to keep moving. It doesn’t matter how fast you’re going. All that matters is that you reach your goal eventually.


Just keep thinking about all of the strides you’ve made so far, and know that when you keep going, you’ll continue to make more and more strides until you end up right where you want to be.