Before you jump in the water, learn what mistakes to avoid and what to do with your child instead to help them learn how to swim.
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7 Mistake: Using “Floaties” or Water Wings
While flotation devices may seem like a good idea, most experts recommend removing them when you actually teach your child how to swim. Since these devices are designed to keep children above water, they actually give children a false sense of security as they swim. These devices can also fall off of your child or float out of their reach, leaving them with nothing but their limited swimming skills.
Instead, teach your child how to make their way to the edge of the pool or a ladder so that they can climb out if needed. Furthermore, if you feel like your child needs some type of flotation device, secure them in a life jacket. This will keep them above water but free their entire body to practice swimming techniques.
6 Mistake: Forcing Your Child Into The Water
Although your parents may have thrown you into the pool with the “trial by fire” method, there are a lot of reasons why your shouldn’t push your child too far before they’re ready. Most young children’s brains aren’t developed enough for them to fully process scary situations, meaning that their bodies often enter fight, flight, or freeze modes when thrown into a terrifying scenario. Furthermore, when children become scared or frustrated, they avoid the events that made them feel that way.
Instead of forcing your kid into the pool or pushing them to swim beyond their comfort zone, keep the swimming lessons brief and listen to them when they express fears or frustrations. Take breaks as needed and find ways to lighten the mood when your child reaches a breaking point.
5 Mistake: Panicking If Your Child Dips Underwater
Although watching your child bob under the water can really scare first-time parents, expressing that fear can negatively impact your child’s ability to swim. In fact, when you panic, your feelings often transfer to your child. In those moments, even the calmest, most confident child will start to second guess themselves and worry about their safety.
When your child is practicing their skills, remain as calm as possible if they take in a little water or their head dips below the surface for a moment. Also, build your child’s confidence in advance by encouraging your child to blow bubbles and place their face underwater for short intervals in the bathtub or a shallow end of a pool. This will make situations that arise while learning how to swim seem less traumatic.
4 Mistake: Getting More Than An Arm’s Reach From Your Child
While this may sound obvious, some families grow too confident about their child’s swimming skills too soon and lose focus. Even if your new swimmer insists they can complete an entire lap, stay close by them at all times just in case. This will not only prevent your child from drowning, but it can also help alleviate their fear of the water in the event that they do temporarily go underwater.
3 Helpful: Create A Pool Routine
Although it’s tempting to dive right into the water on those hot summer days, most experts agree that you can help your child avoid unsafe swimming situations by creating a pool routine. This routine should not only include dressing in proper swimming attire and applying sunscreen, but also a verbal or visual cue that lets your child know when it’s okay for them to enter the water. Having a pool routine helps your child understand that the pool isn’t a place for them to simply play in at anytime, and once the routine is established, it will minimize the chances that your child will ever try to swim without you.
2 Helpful: Teach Water Safety Exercises
Water safety exercises not only help children feel more confident in the pool or other large bodies of water, but they can ultimately help prevent drowning. You can promote water safety outside of the pool with simple activities and basic swimming exercises. Furthermore, you can practice certain safety techniques like going underwater and climbing out of the pool before you begin working on actual swimming techniques.
1 Helpful: Professional Lessons
Although professional lessons may not be possible for everyone, they’re a great way for kids to learn water safety and proper swimming techniques from a trained expert. You can then help your children practice these skills at home and build on the foundations from swimming lessons. Swimming lessons are also a great way to introduce your child to the pool if you don’t have one at home.
With the right skills and water safety tips, your family can enjoy the entire summer poolside if you’d like. Just don’t forget to apply the sunscreen and stay hydrated!
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