Tips to Help Children Overcome Their Fear of the Water

Swimming lessons are not just about learning a life-saving skill for children, they are also a wonderful avenue to physical fitness, confidence-building, and most importantly, fun! However, for some kids, the idea of being in the water can evoke fear and anxiety. As a parent or guardian, it is crucial to support your child through this challenge to ensure that they can enjoy all of the benefits of swimming lessons.

In this blog, we’ll explore some effective tips and strategies to help children overcome their fear of water during swimming lessons. We will also address an issue that exists in tandem with anxiety: how to handle tears in the pool. This blog is based on professional advice from Making Waves Swim School (with locations in Brampton, Guelph, Mississauga, Milton and Vaughan) that will help you understand how to grapple with the big emotions that sometimes accompany the start of swimming lessons.

Before delving into strategies, it’s essential to recognize that the fear of water is not uncommon among children. It can stem from various factors such as past negative experiences, sensory sensitivities, or simply a fear of the unknown. Acknowledging your child’s fear without judgment is the first step towards helping them overcome it!

Seek Professional Guidance: Enroll your child in reputable swim schools or swimming classes led by experienced instructors. These professionals are trained to work with children of all abilities, including those with a fear of water. Making Waves Swim School touts a thirty-year history as well as five locations in Brampton, Guelph, Milton, Mississauga and Vaughan. They teach over 8,000 students per week in learn-to-swim programs and their award-winning water safety programs have produced thousands of confident swimmers.

Positive Reinforcement: Encourage and praise your child for even the smallest accomplishments in the water. Positive reinforcement boosts their confidence and reinforces the idea that the water is a safe and enjoyable environment. For this reason, one of our company tenets is “Cheer for Each Other”, which outlines the importance of celebrating successes in students. Recognition helps motivate and inspire new swimmers, and happens all the time at Making Waves Swim School!

Patience and Support: Be patient with your child’s progress and avoid pushing them beyond their comfort zone. Offer constant support and reassurance, letting them know that it’s okay to take things at their own pace.

Gradual Exposure: When you have the opportunity to spend time in or around the water with your child, start by introducing your child to water in a gentle and gradual manner. Begin with activities like splashing water on their feet or playing with toys in a shallow pool. As they become more comfortable, gradually progress to deeper water.

Stay Calm: If your child becomes upset or cries during swimming lessons, stay calm and composed. Your reaction sets the tone for how they perceive the situation.

Validate Their Feelings: Acknowledge your child’s emotions and let them know that it’s okay to feel scared. Reassure them that you’re there to support them and that their feelings are valid.

Communicate with Instructors: Keep open communication with the swimming instructors about your child’s fears and any concerns you may have. They can provide additional support and tailor activities to suit your child’s needs.

Keep Trying: Lessons will only get easier in time. Maintain a positive attitude about swimming and model that for your child.

Our staff have certainly encountered this issue, as crying children are a very normal part of swimming lessons, especially at the beginning! At Making Waves, if a child is crying, the Head Coach will help out with the class and give the child the one-on-one attention they need. In some situations where the child needs extra support, coaches will ask the parent to ensure they are visible from the observation deck, which allows the parent to cheer their child on. Finally, we always suggest that parents are ready with a towel and a big hug for their child after each lesson!

Overcoming a fear of water in swimming lessons is a gradual process that requires patience, support, and understanding. By implementing these tips and strategies and utilizing the resources available at reputable swim organizations like Making Waves Swim Schools, you can help your child develop confidence and enjoyment in the water. Remember, every child is unique, so be flexible in your approach, celebrate their progress along the way, and keep at it because improvement only comes with practice!