The fear of water – three most common questions parents have
Why do children have the fear of water and at what age is it most common?
The fear of water cannot be ascribed to a specific age, and it doesn’t matter if you are a swimmer or not. There are no rules, because there are many different fears of water and each one of them is the most terrible to the one who has it. It can be either acquired or innate.
It most often occurs in children between the age of one and two, due to a bad first experience with water and its environment. On the other hand, the fear can also occur if the child witnessed drowning, just by watching from a distance, or simply if the parents, or someone from the family, had a negative experience with water, and now that fear has been passed on to the child. Finally, the child does not like the water at the moment and you as a parent should respect that and be patient.
How to make children get rid of the fear of water and teach them to swim and enjoy the water?
It is not easy to overcome the fear of water in children, that is for sure. But you should know that you are not alone in this. It only takes the strong will of both the parent and the child to try it, step by step, with an expert supervision.
With two decades of practice, I can tell you that sometimes it’s enough to let the children be around the water observing what others are doing, playing, of course, under supervision. It is important to create a relaxing atmosphere so that children are comfortable outside and in the water. Always start by introducing the frightened child to the water in the shallow part, where he or she has self-control and can touch the bottom. Then, bring their favourite toy as a fun object in the water.
As a parent, you should enter the water step by step, and be a person of trust. You will see by their grip, whether they like the water or not yet. Regardless of the age, most children, but also adults, don’t feel comfortable when their head, ears, nose are in the water. To get it all started, create an interesting atmosphere so that the child gets his or her face wet – making bubbles in water is always a good start. A big shift is made when your child starts feeling comfortable in the water, enjoying it and laughing at the same time.
Some will overcome the fear of water in two weeks of intensive touch with water, and some will need three months, a year or two. That’s why the most important thing is that you, as a parent, feel relaxed, patient and loving with the child who is afraid of water. It is important not to give up, because it is all much easier when they are younger! Do not rush it becuase every child is an individual and they should love water and learn to swim at their own pace.
Parents, if you do not have the strength, patience, or time to deal with your children's fear of water, get a trustworthy professional - a swimming coach, who has experience and results in overcoming the fear of water in the youngest.
A child at the seaside, lake, river, or a pool, does not want to get into the water - should I leave him/her alone until he/she decides to do it on his/her own, or should I persuade him/her to try it anyway?
Whether it is a six-month-old baby, one-year-old or an older child, never "push" them into the water, sea, lake, river, if they are about to cry. Every child has their timing, especially if it is their first time. If the child does not want to swim in the sea this summer, he/she is still not ready at the moment. Respect that! The most important thing is not to rush him/her just because his/her friend and sister are already in the sea, enjoying themselves. I know you came on holiday; you have a limited number of days for swimming, but wait for the children's eyes to get used to the new water space, and ears to get used to the new sounds… The easiest thing you can do is throw them into the sea while they’re screaming, kicking, hitting and complaining... by doing this, we can just easily make the fear of the water even worse.
On the other hand, it happens that children who enjoyed the waves and the sea every summer will not dip a finger in the water this or next year, they just do not like it anymore. Also, children who feel comfortable in the pool happen to be frightened by the great blueness when they go to the seaside. They are afraid of the waves.
The winner of numerous medals, an Italian swimmer, Federica Pellegrini, once mentioned that despite numerous results she had in the pool, she was simply afraid of deep water.
The atmosphere and conditions that suit or do not suit the child around or in the water at that specific moment can be various. It’s not a big deal. These are all phases which will, as in growing up, change eventually. Of course, that doesn't mean you have to give up. On the contrary, show the children by your own example how you yourself can enjoy the sea, the lake, the river.
Fear of water is manageable.
Give your child a choice.
Find a trustworthy person, an expert for overcoming the fear of water.
Life is more beautiful when you are swimming!