9 Ways to Help Children Overcome a Water Fear
If your child experiences anxiety and fear around water, it can be difficult to know how to help
Many parents look forward to the time when they can share their favorite water activities with their kids. There’s something magical about those summertime pleasures – the beach, pool, or splash park. If your child is fearful of the water, it may put a damper on your ability to share these fun experiences.
You may be wondering, what can I do to help my child overcome this fear? There are lots of ways you can help your child get more comfortable in the water.
If you’re searching for some ideas to help you encourage and support your child around water, here are our top tips to help children overcome a water fear.
1. Don’t dismiss their fear
The first step in helping your child overcome their fear is to take it seriously. Try not to dismiss your child’s fear as irrational and thus unimportant.
Resist the temptation to get frustrated with your child because of their unwillingness to be in the water. The fear they are experiencing is very real, and if you are compassionate and understanding, you will help your child gain confidence.
2. Make it fun right off the bat
Some children are intimidated by starting right away with full submersion. Instead, ease them into the water with fun, confidence-boosting games.
Kids love to sit on the deck and splash with their legs, and you can make a game out of everything about getting into the water.
3. Go slow
Overcoming a fear of water takes time. It’s never a good idea to rush your child, or worse, force them to do something they are truly frightened of.
It’s better to slowly increase their exposure to water, and make it enjoyable with games and fun lessons.
4. Sing songs
If you run into a hiccup during a lesson, singing songs can be a great distraction. Kids love music and songs, and singing together can be very soothing and distracting for a child.
Find tunes that they love, anything from “Row Your Boat,” to “ABC’s.” It can help you reset the moment from scary to silly.
5. Make them feel safe
When your child does find the courage to get into the water with you, make sure to hold on to them and make them comfortable. You may be emboldened by their progress and tempted to try and push them to move a little, but be sure to keep their trust.
Accept that the most they may be able to do at the moment is be stationary with you in the water, and it’s best to let them decide when they’re ready to try more.
6. Blow bubbles
A great starting point is to teach kids how to blow bubbles. Not only is it fun, but it teaches them that when they’re blowing bubbles, the water isn’t going up their nose.
Demonstrate how to blow bubbles and then practice with them. It’s another great way to have fun while getting comfortable in the water.
7. Know when to take a break
If your child has a meltdown or gets disinterested, allow them to take a break. Get out, have a snack, or play a game on dry land.
This is important because it keeps the experience positive and happy, and gives your child a nice association with play in and around water.
8. Give them lots of praise
A little encouragement goes a long way in helping to alleviate a water fear. It can turn scary experiences into triumphs.
For example, if your child gets some water up their nose, don’t panic and rush them out of the pool. Instead, stay calm and compliment them with phrases like, “you did great! You almost had it!”
Obviously, use your best judgment. If they are very upset, then it might be a good idea to take a break and attend to them. However, staying calm and pointing out what they did right can be a big help for gaining confidence.
9. Sign them up for swim lessons
A surefire way to help your child overcome a water fear is by taking the time to teach them how to swim. Swim lessons can help your little one to learn how to swim and how to be safer around the water.
At Ocaquatics, our goal is to teach families to love swimming and become safer, more comfortable, and more responsible in the water. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help your child, call us today at 305-969-SWIM (7946), or by visiting us online to learn more about our year-round swimming lessons.