What we must remember is that there is a significant difference between helping a person or child overcome their degrees of fear surrounding water, which is often actually a fear of drowning, and teaching a person who is not suffering from that same fear, how to swim. The process and skill sets required are very different.
How to recognise if a child fears water
Some obvious signs that a child is abnormally fearful of water or drowning are:
- They are unable to stand, unassisted, in shallow water
- Unable to submerge their face in shallow water
- Unable to perform an assisted front and/or back float in shallow water
- Unable to enter deep water with a flotation device
How to overcome a fear of water
At Sports Generation, if we notice that a child is fearful through any of the above signs then we try to teach them to understand, manage and eventually overcome their fear of water through certain skills and techniques.
Some easy steps that we carry out with your child to help them become more comfortable around and in water are:
- Encouraging your child to touch the water. This demonstrates that the water is safe and won’t hurt them. You can also encourage them to splash the water, have legs in the water or kicking toys to show that it can be fun. We also use watering cans and cups to get children used to water on their faces.
- Encouraging your child to use the water from the swimming pool to wash their shoulders, ears and face. This demonstrates that the water won’t hurt them.
- Encouraging your child to blow bubbles into the water using their mouth. This can also be done at home with you holding them in the bath or by lying by the edge of the pool without being fully submerged.
- Playing games with your child. Throw sinking toys into the shallow end of the water and have your child reach down to retrieve them. We often use George and Pepper pig toys because children are familiar with these and this takes their mind off the fear of the water. Keep playing with your child until they are comfortable with putting their head under the water to retrieve the toys.
- Getting your child to float on their stomach or back may be difficult. We start to do this in our lessons and make the child more comfortable by placing a hand under the child’s stomach or back as support. As they begin to become more comfortable, we remove the support so that they are floating without assistance.
- Another great activity to do with your child, especially on holiday is to encourage them to stand close to the edge of the pool and jump into the water to you. After they have reached you, move back slightly and try it again. Keep repeating this action until they are using basic kicking and arm movements to reach you. We often incorporate games into our jumping practices and when your child develops their confidence they will also be taught how to turn around in the water and return to the side (which is important for safety).
If your child has a fear of water then please drop us an email and we can talk you through how our swimming lessons would help them overcome this fear.