The earlier you expose your child to water, the more it will help prevent them from having a fear of being in the water. Most children are afraid of the water at first glance, especially putting their heads under water. In this blog, we will discuss what to do if your child is afraid of water.
Why Your Child Might Be Afraid Of Water
The toddler and preschool years are the prime years for developing fear of water. Fear of water can develop from multiple reasons. A few examples of why your child may have a fear of being in the water are:
- Your child may have experienced a bad swimming experience
- Had an uncomfortable experience in the water such as getting water in their nose or eyes
- Realizing that “water” can be potentially dangerous
- Finding large bodies of water to be “mysterious”
Regardless of what is causing this fear, it is important that you help your child overcome this so they can learn to swim and be safe while in the water.
If the fear of being in the water and swimming completely terrifies your child, it is best that you ease them into the process. By taking your child to the pool to simply observe the environment, you are allowing them to naturally become familiar with the setting.
Talk it out!
Communication is the solution to many problems. When dealing with children, who are naturally expressive, it can be helpful to have an open dialogue with them about what is bothering them.
A lot of children hate bath time and look at it as a punishment. If you join your child while they are in the tub you are showing them it is okay to relax and that you are not afraid of the water.
As a parent you can either get in the water with them or hold their hands while they are inside. This is an act of physical encouragement.
Protect their eyes!
Children hate when things are irritating their bodies, especially their eyes. When you are in the water it is inevitable that water will get in your eyes at one point. If you give your child goggles, they will feel more secure and safe.
It is important to note that many children link “goggles” and other water equipment as “fun” and to emphasize that these items are not toys, but that they are needed to protect them.
Have your child get used to touching water. This will demonstrate that water is safe and will not hurt them. By playing and splashing the water, your child will see that water can be “fun.” As a parent, you can also practice blowing bubbles with your child.
You can do this by having them get in the water and showing them how to blow bubbles with their mouths.
Playing games with your child is a great way to get them accustomed to being in the water. An example of how you can do this is to place toys in the shallow end of your bathtub or pool and have your child practice retrieving them.
Once your child becomes comfortable retrieving the toys, you can begin placing them in deeper ends of the water. After doing this consistently, the ultimate goal should be that your child should feel more comfortable placing their heads completely under water to retrieve their toys.
Having your child practice floating while in the bathtub is a great way to loosen their fears of water. Getting your child to float on their stomach or backs can be challenging at first. You can start this by providing support by placing your hand under your child’s back or stomach.
Once they become more comfortable with this movement, slowly move your hands away so that they are floating without your assistance.
Some children may be more willing to listen to an adult that is not their parent. Placing your child in private swim lessons, with an instructor that is trained to deal with children afraid of the water is one of the best things you can do to help!
At the end of the day, parents have to respect that their children may have a genuine fear of being in the water. Parents should not force their children inside of the water or push them to overcome their fears any faster than they are able too.
It is very common for young children to develop a fear of the water and for parents to be frustrated during these situations. Patience is a virtue! By slowly increasing their exposure to the water and implementing each step that was mentioned above, progress will be made.