If you’re dealing with a child who is fearful of water or looking for ways to prevent your child from fearing water, this article is for you! Learning to swim can be scary. Wavefront Aquatics works to help children who fear water overcome their fear and become strong, confident swimmers. This article presents a few tips and tricks that can be practiced at home, to help anyone become comfortable in water.
Fear of water typically stems from a scary experience with water or lack of time in the water. It is important to understand that the easiest way to help a child be comfortable in water begins in infancy. It is necessary to accustom infants to water for them to be comfortable in water as they get older. The easiest way to do so is through baths! Baths should be taken often and not always just to get clean. They can be fun too! While the child is bathing or playing in the water, it is important that water is poured over the child’s head. If the child becomes upset, the best response is to wipe their face once with your hand and then distract them. Often, if a child becomes upset with water on their face, the parent will use a hand to shield their face or wipe their face with a towel. This action can be harmful because it teaches the child that there is a reason to be upset about water near their face. Just remember children watch their parents to see how to react. If you become distressed with water on your child’s face they will too!
Since baths can also be taken for fun, we encourage playing with toys in the bathtub. By using a variety of sinking and floating toys, the child is learning to become comfortable with reaching through the water. This skill is essential for their later years as they are learning to move through the water. Bubble baths are also a great place for children to practice putting their face in the water! The bubbles provide a great hiding place and an easy way to introduce goggles. Toys can be hidden under the water and children can practice looking around under the water to find all the toys. Just remember to use goggles and practice blowing bubbles!
Blowing bubbles is an important skill for children to practice. For children who are fearful of water, the easiest place to practice bubbles can be through a straw in a glass of liquid. This will allow the child to see the bubbles they make and become accustomed to the sensation without putting their face in the water. As they grow more comfortable, encourage them to try the straw in the bathtub, and eventually use their mouth in the water to bubble.
The bathtub is also a great place for children of any age to become comfortable with floating on their back in the water. The easiest way to practice is for the child to lay back in semi-deep water (the level depends on the size of the child) and place their head on your hand. As the child pushes down on your hand they will be able to experience the sensation of floating in a safe area where they can touch. As the child adjusts to the sensation of floating they can remove their head from your hand and place it on the bottom of the bathtub instead. Just remember to get their ears in the water and keep their chin up high!
Once your child is semi-comfortable in the bathtub, it is time to introduce them to a pool. Pools can be slightly scarier because they are much bigger and deeper. Once your child is comfortable getting in a pool there are a few things you can practice. Putting their face in the water, bubbles and jumping in are all great things to practice. Just remember never catch your child when they jump! This action can give them unrealistic expectations and encourage them to jump in when no one is looking.
While Wavefront Aquatics highly encourages introducing your child to water and taking them to the pool, we often see parents teaching bad habits or injury inducing technique. We want to remind parents that their only job is to help their kids have a fun and positive experience in the water. Teaching safety skills and strokes is best left to professionals!
Written by: Alexa Alberda