Helping your child overcome a fear of water
By: Rose Beasley
While many children instantly take to water and all the fun it provides, there are some who cannot get past a fear of it. Perhaps the water feels odd to their body or stings their eyes. Each child has his or her own reason for not wanting to make a splash in the pool or even the bathtub. Psychologists believe that childhood fear of water can be blamed on developmental immaturity, which they define as the status of a child who exhibits a delay (usually temporary) in reaching developmental landmarks without clinical or historical evidence of damage to the central nervous system. The child may appear younger than his or her chronological age in physical development, gross and fine motor abilities, language development, social awareness, or any combination of the above.
Introducing your child to the water at an early age will really help make the process easier. Many parents enroll their children in baby swimming classes when they are just a few months old. This can help infants learn to save themselves in the event of them falling into water unattended and make it less likely that they will be afraid of the water when they get older.
However, if your child already fears the water, this is most likely not an option. As odd as it may seem, you should still start introducing them to the water as soon as possible. The odds that your child will outgrow this fear are not in your favor. Therefore, being exposed to the water and learning that it isn’t going to hurt them is the best way to handle it.
It is very important to encourage your child to confront this fear but you should never make them feel ashamed of it. Shame is never a healthy approach and can actually make things worse for your child. Instead, make take time to listen to and understand your child’s fear. Once you understand your child’s fears in relation to the water, the more prepared you’ll be to help your child confront them.
Building Trust by taking slow steps
Taking slow steps is a very important process in helping your child to overcome their fear of water. Forcing your child into the water or tricking them into swimming before he or she is ready is something you never want to do because it can increase their fears and diminish their trust in you to protect them. A much better way is to guide them in the following steps.
1. Take your child to the pool and allow them to observe without going near the water.
2. Encourage them to sit beside you on the edge of the pool.
3. Get in yourself and play catch with some pool toys while your child remains on the edge of the pool. This allows them to learn that being at the pool can be fun even if they don't want to make a splash themselves.
Overcoming their fear of water is not something that is going to happen overnight. However, the results of doing so are well worth the wait. The smile on your face will be just as big as your child's smile as he or she jumps, splashes, and swims.
This article is brought to you by: The Swimming Swan