If your child is afraid of the water and you want to help, here are 3 easy rituals you can start today. Our expert today, Michelle Ziskovicz, is a swim instructor and author of the Little Duckie Swim Program. Let's find out her advice.
Helping your child overcome their fear and love the water starts during bath time. We
will help your child learn that water can be fun with this easy bathing ritual.
Make the water fun: Is bath time an enjoyable experience for
both you and your child? Most families have a variety of bath time experiences
with their children. To help your child have more fun in the bath try these
three simple bath activities:
1. Sing, read or tell stories to your child during bath time.
2. Ask your child what toys they would like to bring to the bath. (You
can do this for your swimming lessons too.)
3. Bathe younger and older siblings together. This way, a fearful
child can see that big brothers or sisters enjoy the water.
Reward good bath time behavior with favorites, like watermelon lollipops or princess
stickers. Before you know it, your child will start looking forward to bath
time. They are on their way to loving the water!
Bath Time: Be comfortable in the water
You can help your child overcome their fear of water using squirt toys and a “rain
bucket” in the bath tub. To help your child feel comfortable in and around
water, we will gradually help them feel at ease during a full submersion.
First, use squirt toys (in non-soapy water) to squirt other toys during bath time.
Show your child it is alright for the toys to be splashed with water. Help your
child squirt his or her favorite toys with water.
Next, find a “rain bucket” (a bucket or cup with holes in the bottom). Scoop some
non-soapy water and sing “rain, rain go away” while you drip water on your
child’s hands and feet. Eventually, your child will be comfortable enough to
let you drip water the back of their neck and top of the head.
This is a big step towards helping your child overcome fear of water in the water
for swimming lessons. Once your child feels comfortable with this
routine, bring the same toys and rain bucket to the pool to warm up for your
For children who are extremely uncomfortable around water, do these same steps in
an empty bath tub. Start with squirting other toys, and move on to the “rain
bucket” only when your child is ready. Eventually you will be able to fill the
tub with more and water.
Swim Lesson: Relax and have fun in the pool
Start each swim lesson or pool time with a welcome song. Sing any favorite song you
would like to your child. Just make sure to repeat that same song at the start
of each swim lesson. This helps your child become familiar with the water
quicker. End pool time with a goodbye song and a yummy lollipop or stickers.
Swim Lesson Guidelines
Be Patient. The best way to help children enjoy the water and learn swimming is “going at the child’s pace”. Children learn best when they are physically, emotionally and mentally ready to lean. This is why your swim lessons should slowly introduce new water skills to your child when they are ready. We use our “Swim Routine” to get your child familiar with basic swim skills before adding more advanced swim skills. So be patient and let your child learn to swim at their own pace. They will learn faster and enjoy the water more.
Have Fun. Learning to swim is a brand new experience for a child. They must learn to move their bodies in new ways in water. Many children find it challenging in the beginning of the swim lessons. If you want to keep your child engaged during the lessons, make each lesson feel like play time by including songs, fun toys and taking breaks whenever needed.
Let's HONOR Michelle for sharing her expertise in helping your children love the water. She is happy to answers your questions at How to Teach Your Child to Swim You'll find her swim program there too.
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