Many small children are afraid of swimming in the pool or more specifically – sinking. It can be due to an unpleasant experience, dislike of water splashing on the face or you may not even be able to figure out why they are afraid of the water. More often than not, you find that the fears may not always make sense.
I went through the same experience with my daughter when she was about 3 years old. She was so petrified of the water that she clung on to me like a koala bear. She loved slashing water in the pool when she was a baby but then had a bad experience in one of her swimming classes. It took a long time for her to get over it but she eventually did! Well, sort of gradually and with lots of patience and encouragements along the way. If you’re looking for ways to help your child to become more comfortable in a pool, consider these tips and see if they work for your child.
Slow and steady wins the race
The very first thing parents should realise is that the fear needs to be addressed even if you do not think the child has any reason to be scared of the water. Parents should focus on building up the child’s confidence first. While you should take fear seriously, over reacting can fuel it.
When introducing your child to the water, you may need to take your kid back a few steps, take it slow and respect the fear. There is no advantage in rushing your child. Encourage him/her to approach the pool and let them know that you are around to help him. The objective is to get your child to be comfortable with being in the pool. If your child prefers to keep a distance, it’s okay and keeps on encouraging him/her to take a step closer.
The slow progress can be agonizing but I believe that you will achieve a better success rate if you allow your child to get comfortable with the water their own pace. The main thing to remember when it comes to helping a child become comfortable with water after being afraid of it is patience. This could be a long process and you need to ensure that you don’t lose your cool.
I once saw a father just sitting at the poolside with his terrified daughter chatting and dangling their feet in the water. He slowly proceeded from there by gradually immersing their legs, then their hips and eventually half their bodies. During this process, the father back away if there is hesitance from his daughter. I thought this is brilliant and fantastic! Patience is the key when helping your child to overcome the fear of water.
Focus on fun, not fear
Parents should focus on the fun in the pool by letting the child plays with water toys such as squirters, plastic watering cans, sponges, diving rings etc. Toys like this can divert the child’s uneasiness away and associate water as fun.
If the fear is specific to the pool, your child may be daunted by the vast size of the swimming area. Try limiting the space by picking a smaller or shallower pool. Also, visiting the same pool may give the child a sense of familiarities and the child is more willing to step out of their comfort zone.
If the fear is specific to sinking, a buoyancy aid is ideal, as they can put it on and instantly feel more secure. There are numerous floating products in the market that can make your child feel more comfortable in the water. When choosing buoyancy, it is important to look out for the safety marked.
Our Original Konfidence Jackets is tested with CE marked and comply with the most recent European Safety Certification EN131138-1:2008 relating to buoyant aids for swimming. This safety standard set us apart from others in the market. In addition, it comes with removable floats that allow you to tailor the level of support to their need. This means that you can take out floats as their swimming ability and water confidence increase. The striking bright yellow back provides high visibility for parents as well.
Last but not least, praise every achievement and highlight to your child that the pool is fun. Set short, achievable goals for your child and reward your child for his willingness to explore. Give your child frequent reassurance she is safe. You may also read storybooks that discuss the fear to read with your child such as The Boy Who Wouldn’t Swim by Deb Lucke, Katie Catz Makes a Splash by Anne Rockwell, Edward in Deep Water by Rosemary Wells.
Hang in there and good luck!
On behalf of Konfidence Singapore