Swimming is an essential life skill that all children should learn, but unfortunately, some children are afraid of water and swimming. As a parent or caregiver, it can be challenging to help children get over their fear of water, but with patience and persistence, it is possible. In this blog post, we’ll share some tips on how to help children get over their fear of water and swimming.
1. Don’t dismiss their fear
It is possible to recognise your child’s fear without feeding it. Their fear is very real, and if you are compassionate and understanding, it helps to build trust and confidence.
2. Start with gentle exposure
When it comes to gaining confidence in the pool, it’s not a sink or swim. Begin by introducing them to water in a safe and controlled environment, such as a bathtub or kiddie pool. Encourage them to splash around and play in the water, and gradually increase the amount of water they are exposed to.
3. Build trust
It’s important to build trust with your child when it comes to water. Hold your child’s hand or carry them in the water and let them know that you are there to support them. You may be emboldened by their progress and tempted push them to move a little but be sure to keep their trust. This will help them feel safe and secure in the water.
4. Make everything fun!
To make water more fun and less scary, use toys and games – after all, its hard to be scared when you are laughing. Bring along some pool toys or games, such as diving rings or beach balls, to encourage your child to play in the water. You can make animal sounds underwater or play kicking games on the edge. Playing games in the water will help them associate water with fun, rather than fear.
5. Enrol in swimming lessons
Swimming lessons are an excellent way to help children overcome their fear of water. A qualified swim instructor can help your child learn to swim in a safe and controlled environment. Swimming lessons will also help your child build confidence in the water and improve their swimming skills.
6. Be patient and positive
Above all, be patient and positive. It may take some time for your child to feel comfortable in the water, but with patience and persistence, they will get there. Encourage them every step of the way and celebrate their progress, no matter how small.
7. Blow bubbles
Learning to blow bubbles is a great place for kids to start since it is fun and an important skill to prevent water going up their nose. Demonstrate how to blow bubbles and then practice with them. It’s another great way to have fun while getting comfortable in the water.
8. Know when to take a break
If your child has a meltdown or seems disinterested, let them take a break. You can give them a snack or play a game on dry land. This is important to keep the experience positive rather than feeling like a chore.
9. Give lots of praise
A little encouragement goes a long way. It can turn scary experiences into triumphs. For example, if your child gets water up their nose, don’t panic and take them out of the pool. Instead, use phrases like, “you did great! You almost had it!”
Obviously, use your parental judgment. If your child is very upset, take a break. However, staying calm and pointing out what they did right will go a long way.