Many kids take to the water quickly. Unfortunately, not every child is able to act this way. If you’re a parent who loves to swim, your child’s fear of water can be particularly stressful.
You may have been looking forward to sharing fun times in the pool with your toddler, but it isn’t happening. They’re sitting on the sidelines watching the fun instead of participating. Luckily, there are ways of helping your child overcome their fear of the water.
Lead With Understanding
It may not be obvious to you why your child is afraid of the water. The fact is, it’s not unusual for toddlers or preschoolers to feel this way.
But it is important to realize that your child’s fear is real to them. Lead with understanding. Let them know that you realize this fear is real and that you want to help them overcome it.
Be patient with your child. If you’re feeling disappointed or frustrated, don’t show it.
Never Display Your Own Anxiety
If you’re anxious about your child being in the water, don’t share your anxiety with your child. It won’t help them and can make their fear of the water worse.
So, even if your thoughts aren’t entirely positive, make sure your words and actions are! Not only will your child begin to feel more positive and relaxed—you probably will too!
If your child is nervous about starting upcoming swim lessons, remain calm and encouraging.
When At the Pool, Easy Does It!
Let your child experience the water at their own pace. A younger child may want to stay securely in your arms while they reach out to splash the water with their hands. Hold them so they feel comfortable and safe. The important thing is that they are making progress.
(Remember—in a pool parents should always stay within arm’s length of a young child who is not an experienced swimmer.)
Slow and steady is the name of the game for overcoming fear of water. One day your child may simply want to dip their toes before moving on to wade up to their knees.
Maybe your child isn’t even ready to enter the pool. That’s okay! Sit on the edge of the pool with your child and have fun as you both kick your legs in the water.
Have Fun in the Water Together
Play games in the water to get your kid used to moving and splashing around in the shallow area. Bring a floating ball into the pool and let them get used to chasing it and throwing it back to you.
Get cute goggles to protect young eyes from splashed water. But never let water wings or other floatation devices give either you or your child a false sense of security in the water.
If your child isn’t ready to put their face in the water, that’s okay. Forcing your child to do things they’re afraid of won’t help them overcome their fear. But it may make things worse, and you may also lose their trust.
Instead, try asking your child if they want to learn how to blow bubbles in the water. If they’re feeling secure, it’s a fun way to get your child to begin to feel safe putting their chin in the water.
Show Encouragement and Support
Child experts say one of the best things you can do is catch your child doing something good. This is true for overcoming fears as well. If you’re in the pool and your child gets splashed by another swimmer, or is otherwise bothered, let them know they did a great job of handling the situation afterward.
A little encouragement goes a long way in building confidence
Less is More!
Don’t keep your child in the pool if they are starting to show signs of tiring or wanting to get out. Take a break from the pool or even get out of the water for the rest of the day. Don’t worry, though—since they’ve had a pleasant experience, they’ll be eager to get into the water the next time.
Get Your Child Swim Lessons
Getting your child involved with swim lessons at the right swim school is a great way to help them overcome their fear of water while they learn a fun and possibly life-saving skill.
At Njswim, we offer swim classes for kids of all ages—ranging from babies three months and older up through high school seniors.
We train our swim teachers in swimming instruction, lifeguard skills, and child development. They understand that each child learns at their own pace and comfort level.
At Njswim, we call our approach to swimming “Learn to Float.” It incorporates a Zen-like approach to swimming where kids learn to feel as one with the water. This increases their feeling of security and helps them get in touch with their natural buoyancy.
Our Water Babies classes are a great way to get your young child used to the water. It’s also a fun bonding experience for you and your child.
Read about the benefits of swimming lessons for toddlers.
What If Your Child Is Fearful of Swim Lessons?
It’s perfectly natural for a child to experience fear before or during swim lessons. Everything and everyone is new to them. Your child may feel overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of the new pool area. Or they may be shy around their new swim teacher. Your job is simply to remain calm and encouraging for your child.
We limit our swim classes to no more than three kids, so your child will never feel alone, lost, or unseen.
Read our guide for enrolling your child in the right level swim class.
At Njswim, our students learn how to swim and how to be safer around the water. Contact us to find a Njswim school near you. We have six convenient New Jersey locations with warm, comfortable pools.