How to get young children past fear of swimming?
Although swimming can be a joyful experience, it is widespread for children to develop aquaphobia (fear of water) early in life. A survey conducted by baby and toddler swimwear specialists Splash About found that only 16 percent of adults said their children felt comfortable in the water.
As early as eight months old, babies can suddenly develop a hatred of swimming and a fear of being in the water, even though they used to enjoy it. This phenomenon is widely known as "trembling in the water" and is likely to occur when the child has already had some lessons. Although this phenomenon generally subsides with time, aquaphobia can often prevent people from learning to swim if left untreated. However, following some recommended steps can help alleviate a child's aquaphobia.
Possible causes of aquaphobia in children :
Fear of being separated from parents.
A parent inadvertently transmits their aquaphobia.
Feeling overwhelmed by the noise, smell of chlorine, and general activity in a pool.
They don't like to get wet or are afraid of water getting in their eyes or nose.
I remember a negative experience I had in the water before.
Having witnessed something distressing in the water or having seen a distressing water-related scene on television.
How can parents help?
10.2% of parents and caregivers reported that their child is afraid of water and 11.2% are afraid of swimming pools. Once the cause of the phobia is identified, parents should consider how to help their children become more confident and relaxed in the water.
"It is important to remove any pressure and make each visit to the pool as pleasant as possible, without forcing the child to do something they are not ready for."
For parents, I recommend systematic desensitization, a method of gradually getting a person used to something they want to avoid.
"The parent and child establish a series of small steps between where the child is with his phobia and where you want him to be, that is, without any fear. At first, the steps are likely to be very small.
"One of the benefits of this very gradual process is that the child will become more and more courageous, confident, and proud. He becomes enthusiastic about taking the steps and even skipping some of them to tackle something more difficult.
"If parents try to rush things by taking steps that are too big, the child is likely to rebel and take much longer to overcome his fear."
Floats and swimwear
Using life jackets, swimsuits, or fings (flotation devices that attach to a child's chest or under the arms) can help a child feel safe and comfortable. However, don't use them for too long so your child doesn't become dependent on these devices to feel safe in the water.
Choosing colorful and bright swimsuits that your child likes to wear can encourage him or her to swim. Comfortable swimsuits can also help them feel relaxed and comfortable.
Allowing the child to choose the color of their swimsuit, goggles or float increases the control they have in this new situation. This empowers them and reinforces their sense of influence and control, making them feel less overwhelmed.
Comfortable swimsuits and suits with integrated floats or inflatable wristbands help the child feel more confident in the water.