Helping Your Preschooler Overcome A Fear of the Water
In case anyone’s keeping track, spring is quickly approaching its end. Here in San Diego, we’ve been experiencing something like the last dregs of winter, however, but per the calendar; the warmest time of the year is quickly on its way in. With something close to only four weeks left until summer solstice takes place, the stores have quickly filled with outdoor patio furniture, barbecues, Fourth of July gear, and swimming supplies. Despite summer’s June 21 start date, anyone who’s everyone knows that summer really begins on Memorial Day weekend, leaving you and your family only a short week and a half from the beginning of outdoor cookouts, short sleeves, and pool days.
My own husband only in recent years has decided he’s comfortable in the water, having spent the majority of his life hovering close to the edge from a traumatizing near-drowning experience as a child. Unfortunately for him, despite his fears he was never reintroduced to the water, leaving him uncertain of its depths, and fierce oceanic waves. Yet, as he’s grown older he’s spent his time learning to cope with the fear and now even water-skis when we visit our family’s lake house.
No matter a person’s age, fear of the water can strike when you least expect it, but for those of us with preschool aged children, that fear seems to be a constant issue. Luckily, this summer you can start your toddler off early and get them in the water. Whether they have been in the water and are uncomfortable or if it’s an experience you will be embarking upon for the first time, getting your child to be accepting of the water early on will help keep them from being fearful in their later years, leaving you free to hit the beach or pool throughout the summer.
Make Swim-Time Fun
Most instructors suggest taking your toddler to their first swim class between the ages of three and five-years-old, which is around the time they should be in pre-school (keep in mind that some preschool San Diego instructors have after-school trips designated to taking your child to their swim lessons). Register your child at a pool that is not only reputable, but with fun and engaging instructors who will make the experience much more exciting for your toddler. Kids on the younger end of the spectrum may not realize what is happening or that learning to swim can lead to fun trips to the beach, waterparks, or swimming pools, while in contrast older kids can be swayed to learn to swim based on these ideas. Also, finding out where your preschooler’s friends are going for their swim lessons can help motivate your children to get in the water without much fuss.
While swim lessons are available for your three-five-year-olds, there’s no reason why you can’t help get your child comfortable with the water early on. Many preschool San Diego instructors and developmental psychologists agree that your toddler’s uncertainty of the water stems from the uncomfortable feeling it provides. In this case, you can carry your baby around with you in a pool, or sprinkle water on their face so that they lose the fear of having water covering their head. In addition, always test out the water that you’ll be putting your baby into and ensure that it’s at least lukewarm and not icy-cool. If it’s uncomfortable for you, imagine how uncomfortable it is for your child.
Be A Local
If you have a public pool near you, it’s a nice idea to consider getting a swim-pass for the summer and making regular trips and pool-days. Even if you happen to have a pool of your own, consider using a public pool because they tend to have much shallower areas specifically designed for toddlers. Allowing your toddler a shallow end to stand in will help them become comfortable with being in the water, while helping them understand that floating (something they’re incapable of doing alone) is not the only solution to being in a water setting.
As I mentioned above, this is the time of year when swimming gear is scattered all over your local Target. From pool-noodles, arm-floaties, water-balls, and goggles, there’s something for every toddler’s needs. By stocking up on fun and colorful toys for you toddler to enjoy while in the pool, you’ll help distract them from the water that is causing their fears. Likewise, getting your child some colorful goggles will help soothe them as you help them to see under water. A common fear of the water stems from not knowing what might lurk beneath, by giving your child the power of sight beneath the surface they will see that all they really need to worry about are dad’s hairy legs. Similarly, preschool San Diego teachers when asked said that a common thread for aggression toward the water stems from a child’s burning eyes after they’ve spent all day getting chlorine in them—an issue that goggles will help get rid of.
Don’t let your child’s fear of the water get out of hand. Letting them panic and nurture an unhealthy relationship with water can and will inhibit them in their later years, leaving them left in the wake as their friends enjoy pool and beach days. Rather, help foster a loving relationship to the water, leaving you ready to book your family’s next tropical vacation where you can all enjoy a nice day soaking in the sun and relaxing in the nice, salty waves.