Mum criticised for ‘cruel’ and ‘traumatic’ swim survival lessons for toddlers after her two-year-old son drowned

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  • A mum who lost her two-year-old son when he drowned four years ago has sparked controversy on social media for ‘cruel’ and ‘vile’ swim survival lessons, where she teaches toddlers to survive if they’re drowning.

    Emma Aspinall’s son, Loui, died in 2013 during a family holiday in Tunisia, when he sadly drowned.

    The mum then trained in America to become a swim survival teacher for toddlers and babies, in an bid to save other children from drowning, which she’s been teaching near her home in Wigan.

    But even though the classes are meant to help children know what to do if they’re in trouble in the water, they have caused controversy on social media, with some people calling them ‘cruel’.

    During the lessons, children are dropped into a pool and taught to roll onto their backs. They also have different objects put onto their faces so they learn not to panic and know what to do if they get something covering them, likes weeds or plastic bags.

    Emma regularly posts pictures and videos of her lessons, but one post in particular split opinion. In the video, a toddler can be seen crying during the lesson, which some Facebook users found ‘cruel’ and ‘vile’.

    One wrote: ‘The child is crying’, while another said ‘what vile person ever thought this up!!

    A third commented: ‘Why put things on his face so cruel’.

    Charities like Swim England and the Royal Life Saving Society UK have also warned parents against the practice, saying it’s traumatic for children.

    ‘[Forcing] a baby or toddler to float relies on extreme traumatic methods and, sadly, no amount of praise will compensate for the memory of inflicted pain — it just gets pushed into the recesses of our brain, where it is recorded,’ Françoise Freedman, an expert on baby swimming, told the Times.

    Emma Aspinall

    Emma Aspinall added a new photo.

    Co-founder of Water Babies Paul Thompson also agreed, saying: ‘We are aware of the distress to children the self-rescue technique can cause and regard it as an aggressive, unproven method to make babies “drown-proof”.’

    However, many parents backed Emma and said they’re glad their children had or are having the training with her in case an accident happens in the future.

    One said: ‘You’re protecting babies and kids and saving lives if ever had accident. No one watches their children 24/7 and accidents do happen! To any of us! Them who would like to think their children are untouchable let’s just only hope nothing bad happens. Keep up the work! Harrison loves his lessons wakes up every morning saying “swimming” and he trusts you and so do I 100%!’

    Another wrote: ‘I would rather my child be upset for 10 mins to learn this skill that they will then do for their children. It’s small minded people that can’t see the training you are providing is life saving.’

    Would you consider swim survival lessons for your children? Let us know in the comments!