About the start of this year, 2009, when we took Jillu to the beach, I was totally not prepared for her reaction. She was so scared of the sea and the waves.Petrified is not the word for it !!! She cried even when she was not standing and I was carrying her. She did not let me or anyone stand in the water.
Being a lover of the beach, I was determined to get Jillu over her fear of water.
As a first step, I worked on getting her to get into the bath tub (the round one for the kids which can be inflated).There was a lot of resistance and it took over a week to make her stand in the tub. Post that, she would not sit in the tub. She would just keep standing. That is when, I got her a water resistant book which can be read in the bath tub. She took to the book like a duck to the water:). She was instantly floored and abruptly sat in the tub the moment I gave her the book. I was so gratified to see that :) From that day on, she is very eager to take bath and if she makes a fuss, all I have to say is "tub" and she will come running.
But that still did not improve the situation at the beach. She was still scared and would not come to the water, though she loved playing about in the sand. Then, the next couple of times I observed her behavior. She would be okay when the water touched her feet, but the moment the water started retreating, she would cry. I think the sensation of being dragged was what was making her scared and the fact that you had to dig your feet in to keep your balance. This status-quo was maintained for some months.
And then this month, Jillu has been asking my mom daily to go to the beach for consecutive 2 weeks. So, we took her to the beach last Sunday. Since,the trip is her making, I thought about it and kind of prepared her in advance. I have found that, with Jillu, prior warning and preparing her well in advance works well with her. Previously, she had stranger anxiety and used to cry whenever we went visiting to our relative's or friend's place. So we used to tell her, we are going to so & so's place and you should not cry after going there and that you should be a good girl. This kind of prep talk would happen before any visit and actually it seemed to work. It worked so well that she started saying "Anga poi....azha koodaadh" (Should not cry after going there) when we were about to leave. So, I thought, why not prepare her this time to the beach as well.
So, when we were traveling in the car to the beach, I told Jillu, "Jillu, we are headed to the beach.And you shall be standing in the water. You should be a good girl and should not cry. Anga poi.. azhaa koodaadh. okvaa?". There was total silence for a couple minutes and I could hardly hear her "okay"
And then, when we were actually standing in the water, she started crying saying "bheyama irukku" (I am scared). We calmed her down and reminded her about being a good girl. Initially she was okay when the waves came in and water touched her feet. She started saying "bheyamaa irukku" when the water was retreating. So, we are back to square 1, I thought. We did some small talk and I showed Jillu how the water was sliding backwards into the sea and comparing it to her slides in the park. She seemed intrigued by the idea and then, slowly things started changing. After some time, she actually said "vaa..vaa.. Jillu kitaa vaa" and it was music to my ears :). She had started enjoying the first bit, though she still cried when she felt that she was losing her balance when the water retreated. I was further delighted when she said "innoru vaati.."(Once more) when we were moving away from the water towards the sand.
Though, it was clear that she was still scared of water and there would be hiccups still, I think the trip last Sunday was a turning point indeed!