How to help children lessen their fear of water

learn to swim

It’s common for young children to be afraid of the water environment, especially when they’re getting in it for the first time or trying to put their heads underwater. While most kids will outgrow this fear on their own, some need a little help to surpass this challenging phase. And as parents, you must be there to guide them as they overcome this fear.

We’ve listed easy ways to help ease your child’s fear of water below:

Gradually immerse them in water

An effective way to remove your kid’s worry about being in the water is by conditioning them to get used to it slowly. You can start by only dipping their toes in the pool. Once they get used to this, you can slowly make them go in the water up to their knees and waist. This technique may take a while before your child becomes comfortable in the water, but this also prevents you from pushing them too much. Let your kid learn at their own pace and whenever they’re ready, and before you know it, they’ll love being in the water.

Give them fun water and swimming equipment

Being in the middle of the pool and being too far away from the edge can be terrifying for kids, especially if they don’t feel their feet touching the floor anymore.

You can make your kids wear items to help them feel comfortable and secure while in the water. Give your child a colorful pair of goggles, water wings with their favorite character, and a reliable life jacket in their preferred color so they can feel safe as they swim and play around the pool.

However, while these swimming equipment are fun and colorful, they are not toys and do not guarantee the safety and security of your child while they’re in the water. The last thing you want to happen is to become overly dependent on the equipment. Do not use floatation devices as a replacement for hands-on supervision and teaching your kid essential swimming skills.

Get in the water and get your own feet wet

Children feel safe whenever they are around their parents, especially when they’re still afraid of getting into the pool alone. Swimming with your kid makes them feel more secure since they know you’re always around them.

Some children want to see their parents in the water first before joining them. If this is the case, go into the middle of the pool and show them there’s nothing to be afraid of. You can also carry them or hold their hand so that they’ll feel safe and secure once they’re in the water.

Soon enough, you can sit by the edge of the pool and watch your kid from afar. Remember not to go too far because your child might still look for you. We recommend staying within arm’s length of any inexperienced swimmer at all times.

Enroll them in kid swimming lessons

Your kid can benefit a lot if you sign them up for a swimming program. For instance, your child might listen and follow instructions better from another adult other than you when it comes to getting in the water.

Another reason why registering in a swimming school will help your child is because of its instructors. They have a lot of experience with children and have different approaches and techniques from experience that help them urge children to be more comfortable in the water. Moreover, swimming coaches can teach your child about swim safety, various strokes, and how to stay afloat, giving them the confidence they need.

Lastly, a swimming school will group your child with students of the same age and skill level. By being around children similar to them, they won’t be as shy or worried. In fact, if they see their classmates in the pool independently, they could think that “if they can do it, so can I.”

Talk to them why they’re afraid of the water

It helps to understand why your child is afraid of the water. It can be for various reasons, such as watching a scary movie involving the water, thinking there’s a monster living at the bottom, or being scared of drowning or being sucked down a drain.

Other children had a bad experience while taking a bath, resulting in their fear. For example, they got shampoo in their eyes, were splashed in the face, or fell because of slippery surfaces. You’ll never be sure unless you ask them.

Once you know what’s going on in their minds and rationalize why they’re afraid, it will be easier for you to help them overcome their fear and feel more at ease in the water.

Involve your child in swimming-related tasks

Engaging your children is also an effective way to lessen their fear of the water. For example, go to a store and ask them to choose the swimming attire they want. Let them decide if they prefer a beach or would like to stick their feet in a pool. You can also ask which toy they want to bring with them.

The more you normalize getting into the water and swimming, the more likely your child will get involved and have fun participating and playing in the water.

Make swimtime fun and enjoyable

It can be stressful to see your child struggling out of fear and anxiety of the water. These tips are some of the many ways you can help your child solve their problem rather than simply telling them to get a grip and get over it. As parents, you must help them overcome this fear with as much patience and understanding as possible.

Don’t let your child’s fear get the better of them. If these techniques aren’t working, you can reach out to a psychologist, a certified swim coach, or fellow parents who experienced the same problem.

Princess Jones is a water and health enthusiast.