Teaching your child to swim has a whole host of benefits, and can be a great bonding experience for the two of you. Not only will you be teaching your child a great skill that they’ll use for life, you’ll have loads of fun! Here’s how to teach them the tried and tested way:
Think Confidence, Then Skills
You shouldn’t be in any rush to get your child to swim a length before teaching them water confidence. That’s not to say that your child couldn’t be a great swimmer, it’s just that pushing them too hard can hinder their progress and even put them off swimming forever! If your child learns to love water then it’s possible they’ll develop a swimming habit that will last forever!
Don’t Over Teach
Skills should be encouraged over a certain amount of time without trying to give them too much instruction in one go. Children need to learn and explore for themselves, so there should be more learning than teaching.
Make It Fun
Swimming should be a fun and playful activity, so make sure you always talk about going swimming in a way that doesn’t make kids think they’re having a lesson. Storytelling and songs can be a great way to help get messages about swimming across. Splash About have some great tips and tricks on how to do this!
Don’t Use Aids
In a pool where a child who can’t swim and is out of their depth you’ll need to give them constant support. I don’t recommend you ever take your attention off them anyway, so this shouldn’t be a problem. Buoyancy aids are counterproductive, as they don’t allow your child to explore their own buoyancy in the water. Finding a natural balance is made difficult, and they teach a child that they need them to float when they don’t!
Getting in the Pool
At first, you’ll have to teach your child how to get in the pool safely by climbing backwards down the ladder. However, when they’re happy to get their face in the water you can teach them to jump in!
Hold Your Child But Don’t Hold them Up
It’s tempting to hold your child so they’re on top of the water, but this way you’re holding their weight and not teaching them anything. Simply use your hands to guide them and reassure them. Dress them in an all in one costume as these are easy to hold.
You and your child should have fun splashing each other, and use different plastic toys like cups and watering cans to get water over their face. This should be encouraging them to put their face in the water. You also need to teach them how to hold their breath as they hit the water.
Dealing with Anxiety
Some children are scared of going totally under the water, and this is totally normal, although it can take patience to help them overcome it. Don’t talk about them putting their face in the water, as the more you talk about it the more importance you attach to it. When they eventually get their face wet make sure you praise them. However, if they end up getting upset, don’t comfort them because you’ll reinforce that something bad has happened.
Be patient with your child, don’t push them too hard, and simply concentrate on having lots of fun!