By Alliesha Reber on December 16, 2020

Personality Profiling in Swimming Lessons

Isn't it such a cool thing a child can develop their own personality very early on. We could tell our own children apart within a few weeks. Our little ones are so different when it comes to their personalities that we have to sometimes take a step back and remind ourselves that engaging or enforcing one way with one child won't be effective with another due to their personalities and responses. We try to apply these same rules during swimming lessons.

What really makes our program stand out amongst the competition is the way we treat our students. Of course we are polite and professional, but we also focus on a their personality traits and learning style to help them progress and succeed in the water. If you haven't read The Child Whisperer  by Carrol Tuttle, we highly recommend it! The information from her book has been the cherry on top or our program.

*Side note: When discussing personality types of children it can be somewhat awkward for our instructors due to the fact that sometimes they see one personality and you as the parent believe they have another.

This is most likely to happen with a type 4 personality. As an instructor we interact with potentially hundreds of kids each week and can develop a sense of what a child's personality is fairly quickly. This does not mean that it is a guaranteed assessment every time. There are situations where the child's personality in the pool during lessons can be different than when they are at home with the family.

When you think of personality profiles, for children or adults, it does a good job of predicting how someone responds or interprets situations they are faced with. Some children are able to "manipulate" the situation, or our perception of the situation. It's remarkable what children are able to pick up on and know how to test us as parents specifically. I know with my own children, just because grandma said they were great all night, doesn't mean as soon as we get home they are throwing tantrums and throwing each other off the couch! 

Now let's get into the 4 different personality types:

  1. Happy go lucky children: Type 1's are fearless and outgoing. They have a bouncy way about them and it shows in the water. When I'm teaching a Type 1 child, it's important that I make sure to keep elements of the lesson fun. Don't get me wrong, it's not all games and diving rings, we still get our work done; but I make sure that my temperament is easy breezy. When you're too strict or too serious with these kids they don't progress in their lessons and thats usually when you get excessive crying.
    • Teacher Tip: These students do well with bribes, for example: "If you blow big bubbles at swimming lessons we will go get an ice cream!" I'll even bribe them with an extra diving ring at the end of the lesson if they do a good job, works every time!

  2. Timid Children: Type 2's are sensitive children. They generally have a calm temperament, but can also be very emotionally reactive to new people and new situations. For this Type, I want to bond with them as fast as possible. The best way for me to do that is to ask mom or dad to hide, out of sight, for the first couple of lessons (honestly, this is something that makes it easier for all of the personalities). Our goal is for the child to rely on me and learn to trust me, then they can feel safe with their teacher and begin to feel safe with the structure of the lesson plans; that is when you will see these kids make huge improvements! If this is your child, plan on sticking with the same teacher. Also know that they will learn at a slower pace, so don't get frustrated if you don't see progress fast. Swimming, like learning to play piano or karate isn't a one time lesson kind of thing.
    • Teacher Tip: Come early and allow them to warm up to the idea of starting their lesson, rushing them is the worst way to start a lesson!

  3. Stubborn Children: Type 3's are my favorite (maybe because thats what type I am), these kids are stubborn! A nicer way to put that is they are determined... Determined to be the boss of the lesson, determined to do things their way, determined to be the loudest screamer in the pool so we all know they are not happy! Why is this my favorite child to work with? Because I like a challenge! These kids become my strongest swimmers because, once we show them how to target that natural drive that they have to push themselves, they want to, on their own, be the best in the pool. Most of these kids end up learning strokes at an early age and make fast progress in the pool. However, that doesn't mean you have it easy, we have to be more strict with them during lessons or they will try to take advantage. Once they know we are the boss and what we expect of them, the screaming will stop and then the progress will be fun to watch. Its honestly like flipping a switch for these kids, we will have a breakthrough day in the pool, and then the next time I see you, the crying and screaming has stopped, they are performing all of the skills beautifully and calling out to you, "Hey Mom, watch this!" That's a great day, it all just depends on the child when that will happen. My most stubborn student took 87 lessons before we broke through the stubborn. Hang in there!
    • Teacher Tip: 40 minute lessons (doubles) are great because this personality learns the best when they are tired after breaking through the "stubborn."

  4. Analytical children: Type 4's, these are our analytical children, they are similar to Type 2's because they are also a little sensitive to new situations and people. In the water they are my students who ask a million questions- How many more? Whats next? Are we going to do this today? It's important for us to answer their questions but also keep them on task. These kids need consistency, same teacher, and I recommend sticking with 3-5 lessons a week for a few months. Once they memorize the lesson plan, our goal as teachers is to help them gain confidence in their skill sets. These children question themselves and their abilities, so you'll want a teacher who can reassure them, keep them on schedule and be patient with all their questions! If you are big into rules at home, incorporate them at swimming lessons. Type 4's are generally rule followers, so if you need them to do something, make it a rule! "You have to pick up all 5 diving rings before you can get out and go see Mom."
    • Teacher Tip: Film their lessons- my type 4 son absolutely loves watching videos of himself swimming. They can analyze what we are doing in the pool at home before the lesson, and then come in with a game plan. There is nothing more satisfying for a Type 4.


Personality profiling has been a game changer in our program. Going into the first lessons being able to see, very early on, what a child needs as an individual has been part of why we produce incredible results. Most children have 2 of these traits that stand out as their primary and secondary learning styles. By knowing these we are able to customize your child's lesson right from the start!

Published by Alliesha Reber December 16, 2020