The fear of swimming is not something new, many children have battled with this problem over years. Some have overcome their fears while others have taken those fears well into adult life.
Yet still the question remains, “How can we help our kids to overcome their fear?”.
While it is not easy to convince your child that swimming is safe, the techniques that will teach them that it is, are pretty simple and easy to do even in your own home. But first, let’s get a better understanding of why they feel so afraid.
Why Are Children Scared of Water?
Every child is different and has their own unique way of seeing the world. While they might be content to sit and splash in the bathtub, getting into a swimming pool or body of water might be a whole different ball game.
Nobody can say for sure what sparks the fear, unless they have experienced trauma in some way. If there is no water trauma, then it’s just a natural fear of the unknown. As with all fears, they can be overcome.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
A slow approach is the best approach. Start off with baby steps. Trying to rush your child to get into the water will only create more fear and anxiety. Don’t push, rather praise them for each small step they take. Remain patient and calm as this will help them gain confidence in themselves and trust in the process. Your child’s trust in you, is what will ultimately help them overcome their terror.
Swim and Learn Together
Taking baby steps is a great way to ease your child into becoming a fond swimmer. A good way is to sit with them at the pools edge and put your toes in the water encouraging them to do the same thing. Remembering to stay close by to them, holding their hand and allowing the moment to unfold.
Once your kid is at ease with this, try to encourage them over the next while to go deeper into the pool with you. Even if they cling to you, this process will allow them to see it is safe and that you will be there to help them.
Encourage Fun Water Games
Use fun ways to encourage them. You can use a splash pool in the garden with blow up floatation wings, even if the water is ankle-deep. This will help them get used to their wings for when next you’re in the swimming pool.
Try a pair of goggles at bath time. Treasure hunting toys under the water with their goggles on will help them get used to the water going over their head.
Praise Every Accomplishment
While your child is building their confidence in the water, big positive praises for their accomplishments will positively reinforce their association with water.
The main thing to remember is the more comfortable you are with your child in the water, the more comfortable they will become. Many parents have helped ease their children’s fears with water, and you will too. You’ve got this!
Pro-Tip: Splashing games with water while laughing, rewires the brain to associate fun with it instead of fear.