Ways to Conquer the Fear





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A fear of water is natural for most children. I can remember when my own boys were terrified of waves and no matter what I did, they wouldn't come into the water. This sometimes made our trips to the beach a big drama. They learnt how to overcome their fear but it took time and lots of patience.

I can see that some children in our preschool have a similar fear, or maybe you fear for them? Whatever the case, children learn a great deal from participating in our swimming program. It is step-by-step; nothing happens overnight. Here are some tips for you to consider if your child (or someone you know) is afraid of the water.

Ways to Conquer the Fear

You can do a lot to help your child overcome his fear of water and swimming. Understand his/her specific fear and provide frequent, positive exposure to all kinds of water. Let your child take chances at his/her own pace and she/he will experience success.

  • Name the specific fear. Ask your child exactly what he fears. Is she/he afraid of going under water or getting water in his/her eyes?
  • Never minimize your child’s fear. Your child’s fear is very real to him/her, and it is very important that she/he feels that it is respected.
  • Don’t cater to the fear. You can acknowledge the feeling without allowing your child to hold on to it or manipulate others with it.
  • Don’t force the issue. Never make your child confront her/his fear of swimming. If your child appears stressed about your help or advice, take a break and try again another day.
  • Don’t have any set expectations. Spend time around water with no plans of going in. Sit by the water’s edge, play in the sand, or stick your feet in the pool. Your child can be enticed into the water without coaxing.
  • Read stories and watch movies. Behavior can be shaped through conversation about another child’s struggles with similar issues.
  • Do experiments with water. Let your child enjoy water without the expectation of going swimming.
  • Provide lots of positive feedback. Be specific about your praise. Instead of saying, “You are doing really well!” say, “I really like the way you kick your feet!”
  • See yourself as your child’s coach. Read your child’s signs of comfort and adjust what you are doing.
  • Finally, be a good role model and enjoy the water yourself!