When Puddleducks asked to write a guest post for my blog, it couldn't have come at a better time. Damien has started to become afraid of the water and only wants to stand and play on the steps at the pool.
I know how important it is for children to learn to swim, it's an essential life saving skill and one all children should be given the chance to learn.
I asked for some helpful tips on getting my reluctant water baby into the pool and here they are below. Hope they help!
Learning to Swim: Do’s and Donts for Parents with Reluctant Children
For children, learning to swim is an important milestone in their development, and a vital life skill that can not only bring hours of pleasure and fun and increase health and fitness, but it could one day save their life. Like learning to ride a bicycle, the ability will stay with them for life and will no doubt bring you closer together as a family. Most children love swimming and can’t wait to jump in the water. However, there are some that have misgivings, and may take some encouragement. Here are some tips to coax your youngster into the water and help improve their confidence.
Let them Go at Their Own Pace
As with most stages in their development, be it learning to walk or speaking their first word, children know when they’re ready. The same goes for swimming. If at first they appear intimidated by the swimming pool, try to see it from their point of view: the swimming pool will appear enormous, the water will look very deep, and the pool chaotic and swarming with strangers. It is understandable that this may overwhelm them at first. Let them become accustomed to the new atmosphere. Encourage them to sit on the edge and dangle their feet in the water, or take a ride on your back instead of paddling on their own. They will soon want to join in the fun.
If they have siblings who are perhaps more at home in the water than they are it could be awkward, especially as your other child may want to show off to you whilst you are at the baths together. This could discourage the fearful swimmer. Don’t let them tease either as this is a sure-fire way to prevent them from learning to swim. Instead recruit the confident swimmer to help you. Together you will both be able to show them that there is nothing to be scared of, and encouragement works much better than insults!
Make it Fun
The last thing you want is for your child to associate the swimming pool with being unhappy. When I was learning to swim my instructor was very forceful. She would make us swim lots of lengths without a break and one day she even reduced me to tears. I was put off swimming for months until I got a new instructor who made learning to swim much more fun. Play games with your children in the water; get them silly rubber rings that look like animals, or the swimsuit they fall in love with at the store. Anything it takes to ensure that they enjoy the learning process will be worth it.
The Biggest No-No is forcing your child into the water. Never shout at them, push or in any way force them to get into the water. This will only result in making them more fearful, and could undo any progress you have made. They need you to be a source of encouragement and safety, not the opposite.
Find a Suitable Class
Once your child overcomes the initial fear of the water, you may want to consider swimming lessons to improve their skills and improve their fitness. There are a multitude of classes for varying levels, from toddlers to teens and from non-swimmers to competitive athletes. Choose a class they will enjoy with a smallish group and children of a similar age so that they can make friends. They will gain confidence in no time.
About the author
Olivia Lazenby is a family blogger and considers herself an expert on teaching children to swim. She recommends http://www.puddleducks.com/ to parents looking for swimming classes.