If you want to give your children a good leg up in life, teach them to swim as young as possible. But fear of the water is a common phobia at any age - especially in toddlers and young children. It can be difficult to encourage them to swim when they’re afraid of the pool or sea, but overcoming this early will benefit them greatly later on.
So how exactly can you help your child overcome their fear of water? Read on for a few helpful tips…
Start small, think big
Overcoming a phobia doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual process that requires persistence. Begin with small steps and exposure to the pool. This might consist of just standing in the shallows or playing in ankle-deep water to get your child used to the feel of the water on their body.
Avoid putting pressure on your child or rushing into anything. Spend plenty of time in the safe shallows before encouraging them to move into slightly deeper water. And at every step, be sure to give your child plenty of constant positive encouragement and praise.
Make a splash
Many children have concerns about getting their faces wet. A great place to help overcome this is in the bathroom in the evenings. Encourage splashing and the feeling of the water on skin in a controlled environment before moving onto the pool.
When easing your child into the water, splash about in the shallows to help them get used to the smell and feel of the chlorine. You might want to buy goggles to begin with, and remove them once he or she is feeling more comfortable.
Swimming with friends
Public pools can be uncomfortable places. Try swimming with friends and family to give your child reassurance that there is nothing to worry about. Some familiar faces bobbing about in the water can really help to enforce a positive response to swimming, whether it’s the grandparents, cousins, neighbours, or school friends.
Bring floating devices
When everyone’s happy to move into deeper water, it’s always comforting to have a bit of a lifeline. Bring a floating device, like Mani, that your child can hold on to for safety and peace of mind as they learn to swim.
Make it fun!
Swimming is important, but it’s also fun. Your child shouldn’t ever think that what they are doing is work. Make a game of it, blow bubbles, and try playing with toys in the water - water pistols, rubber ducks - just enjoy it. Take them into the bath as well so gradually they begin to associate water with fun.
Overcoming phobias is all about doing a little and doing it often. Be patient, be persistent, and be positive, and your child will be jumping in at the deep end in no time.
Ready to make friends with the water? For more guidance on introducing your little one to swimming, get in touch with Mini Mantas.